A principal botanical curiosity of Vanuatu is giant banyan trees (nabangas), which often dominate village meeting or dancing places (nasaras), especially on Tanna. The multirooted banyan begins by growing around another tree, which it eventually strangles out of existence. pigs, Vanuatu These massive twisting mazes of trunks and vines are among the earth’s largest living organisms. Also unique is a prehistoric giant tree fern called namwele, which has great cultural significance and is used in many of the large carvings sold in Port Vila.
Vanuatu’s colorful reefs hold its greatest store of life, including potentially dangerous tiger sharks in some areas (especially the corridor between Ambrym and eastern Malekula). In Vanuatu sharks are associated with a particular type of magic that involves certain individuals who can either become sharks or control sharks.
Though introduced by man, the pig is now considered indigenous. Ni-Vanuatu in the central and northern islands knock out the male animal’s upper canine teeth so its lower tusks have nothing to grind against, and in six or seven years the tusks grow into a full circle. The pigs are highly valued by their owners, and the meat and tusks are prized at initiation rites and feasts.