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New Zealand Lizard Reintroductions


JewelledGecko(Naultinusgemmeus)

Orokonui Ecosanctuary (307 ha predator-fenced mainland site 20 km north of Dunedin).  36 jewelled geckos from xxx were released in January 2009. Exotic mammals were eradicated from the sanctuary in July 2007. Contact Chris Baillie.

CommonGecko(Hoplodactylusmaculatus)

Matakohe/Limestone Island (Whangarei Harbour). In November-December 2009, 30 common geckos (sex ratio 1:2 male/female) were translocated from Muriwhenua and Wareware islands (Hen and Chickens group) to Matakhoe.  This is one of 8 planned lizard reintroductions planned as part of the restoration being conducted by Friends of Matakohe/Limestone Island Society.  The island had a long history of being mined for limestone to make cement and also farming.  All the lizards were transported individually in ice cream containers with a tube of black plastic alkathene pipe to shelter in. Food in the form of mealworms was provided. They were taken to Massey University Albany Campus for disease screening. No disease was detected and all lizards were released on Matakohe on Christmas Eve.  Contact Richard Parrish or Cathy & Peter Mitchell.

MatapiaIslandGecko(Hoplodactylussp.)

Motuopao Island (30 ha, off Cape Maria Van Diemen, northern tip of North Island). 41 geckos (20 adult females, 16 adult males, 2 sub-adult females, 3 sub-adult males) were released from Matapia Island (1.3 ha, 20 km to the south), April 1997. This gecko species, superficially similar to a goldstripe gecko, was only found on Matapia before the translocation. Motuopao had kiore until they were eradicated in 1989, hence may have formerly had this gecko. Monitoring was conducted in March 2002, but no geckos were seen from 2.5 hours spotlighting. This is not surprising as we have had very little success spotlighting for Pacific geckos (Hoplodactylus pacificus) on Lady Alice Island in the Marotere Islands. More success was acheived there using artificial ‘gecko homes’ (sunken ptifall traps filled with rocks) and these will now be tried on Motuopao Island. Contact Richard Parrish.

Duvaucel’sGecko(Hoplodactylusduvaucelii)

Mana Island (217 ha, off SW North Island). 21 animals were reintroduced from North Brother Island (Cook Strait), November 1997, and held in cages on Mana until release in February 1998. These were used for enclosure trials with resident goldstripe geckos to test for displacement. A further 19 were released in November 1998. The reintroduction was part of theMana Island Ecological Restoration Programme(to be added). It also increases the distribution of this species, which is confined to offshore islands in Cook Strait on off the NE coast of the North Island. Contact Colin Miskelly for information on translocation. See Flannagan (2000) for research on interactions with goldstripe geckos.

ForestGecko(Hoplodactylusaffgranulatus)

Forest Gecko Reintroductions

Matiu/Somes Island (25 ha, Wellington Harbor). In April 2005, 25 Southern North Island forest geckos (Photo: A. Morrison) were released from captivity onto Matiu/Somes Island (24.9 ha, in Wellington Harbour). It is not known if forest geckos originally inhabited Matiu/Somes Island but evidence suggests that they were once wide spread throughout the Wellington area. Matiu/Somes Island is in the process of being restored to its original coastal forest community and has been pest free since 1989 when rats and mice were eradicated. The geckos were sourced from local breeders and consisted of animals bred from Wellington ecological district sourced stock. 9 Males, 8 females and 8 juveniles were released into purpose built gecko boxes attached to trees on the island. Prior to the release, each gecko was photographed for identification purposes and disease screened by the team at the New Zealand Wildlife Health Centre. Three of the released geckos, including a gravid female, have been found in the gecko boxes during post release monitoring, indicating the geckos are surviving and breeding on the island. Contact Andrew Morrison.

PacificGecko(Hoplodactyluspacificus)

Lady Alice Island (138 ha, Hen and Chickens Group off NE North Island). 27 animals were reintroduced from Pupuha Island (also Hen and Chickens Group), March 1997, and 3 additional geckos in December 1997. Pacific geckos are assumed to have becomd extinct due to predation from kiore, which were eradicated by aerial poison drop in October 1993. This was the first translocation of any gecko species. Geckos born on the island have now been found. In addition, in January 2003 Richard Parrish found 2 Pacific geckos circa 1 km and 2.5 km from where geckos were released, and these were almost certainly animals that were present during the kiore era. This highlights that patience is required after eradications of predators, i.e., species may reappear after having been in undetectible numbers previously. Contact Dave Towns or Richard Parrish.

Matakohe/Limestone Island (Whangarei Harbour). In November-December 2009, 50 pacific geckos (sex ratio 1:2 male/female) were translocated from ‘Middle Stack’, Pupuha, Muriwhenua and Wareware islands (Hen and Chickens group) to Matakhoe.  This is one of 8 planned lizard reintroductions planned as part of the restoration being conducted by Friends of Matakohe/Limestone Island Society.  The island had a long history of being mined for limestone to make cement and also farming.  All the lizards were transported individually in ice cream containers with a tube of black plastic alkathene pipe to shelter in. Food in the form of mealworms was provided. They were taken to Massey University Albany Campus for disease screening. No disease was detected and all lizards were released on Matakohe on Christmas Eve. Contact Richard Parrish or Cathy & Peter Mitchell.

CommonGreenGecko(Naultinuselegans)

Green Gecko Reintroductions

Mana Island (217 ha, off SW North Island). Reintroduction as part of theMana Island Ecological Restoration Programme(to be added). A total of 12 geckos (8 male, 4 female) from the Wellington area were released in February 1998, November 1998 and May 99. Contact Colin Miskelly.

MarlboroughGreenGecko(Naultinusmanukanus)

Motuara Island (59 ha, Queen Charlotte Sound, Marlborough Sounds, off NE South Island). 14 Marlborough green geckos (5 male, 6 female, 3 subadult) were translocated from Arapawa Island, December 1998. Motuara is now predator free following eradication of kiore, and it is likely that Marlborough green geckos were found there historically. The translocation is part of the island’s restoration program (see Maud Island Frog, South Island Saddeback), and increases the distribution of the species. Follow up monitoring will occur every 6 months with the first survey in Autumn 1999. Contact Mandy Tocher.

RobustSkink(Oligosoma alani)

Robust Skink Reintroductions

Motuopao Island (30 ha, off Cape Maria Van Diemen, northern tip of North Island). 30 skinks (27 adults, 3 subadults) were released from Matapia Island (1.3 ha, 20 km to the south) in April 1997. Motuopao had kiore until they were eradicated in 1989, hence may have formerly had this skink. Monitoring was carried out in March 2002 and November 2003. On first trip three skinks were caught in 80 trapnights, including 2 adults (both had increased in size) and one juvenile. On second trip, Andrea Booth caught 4 robust skinks in 60 trap nights. One of these was a juvenile and is the result of breeding occurring on the island as opposed to the 1 caught in 2002 which was most likely born from a gravid female on release. See Parrish & Anderson (1999, Tane 37: 1-14). Contact Richard Parrish.

Korapuki Island (17 ha, Mercury Group off NE North Island). 7 animals from Green Island were released November 1992 – March 1993 as part of the island’s restoration programme (see Towns 1994, and entries for Whitaker’s Skink, Marbed Skink and Egg-laying Skink). Rabbits had been eradicated from Korapuki in 1986 and kiore had been eradicated in 1987. Translocation strategies for all lizards on Korapuki have been to minimise translocation distance (with the aim of matching microhabitats), use immediate releases (to avoid using holding facilities and risking contact with diseases/parasites), and to typically take about 30 individuals (to avoid inbreeding while also avoiding damage to source populations). Contact Dave Towns.

McGregor’sSkink(Oligosoma macgregori)

Lady Alice Island (138 ha, Hen and Chickens Group off NE North Island). 39 McGregor’s skinks (Cyclodina macgregori) were released at Kotutotara Bay of Lady Alice in the Chickens group in December 1997 and March 1998. The 39 skinks released (16 pregnant females, 18 males, 5 sub-adults) were from Sail Rock in Hen & Chickens island group. The species is assumed to have been on Lady Alice historically because the source and release site were connected about 3000-5000 BP. The reintroduction is part of restoration of Marotere Islands following eradication of Pacific rats in 1994. The skinks were caught in 4 litre paint pails and transported in cloth bags and then large plastic boxes with leaf litter. The first monitoring was done in January 2003, and 3 skinks were caught. Two were translocated skinks, both of which had grown since release, and the third skink was a large juvenile that was probably born in the first year (i.e., from a female pregnant when released). Four skinks were caught in January 2005, including 2 males, 1 female and one ca. 2-year-old juveniles that obviously resulted from breeding at the release site. Contact Richard Parrish.

Whatupuke Island (102 ha, Hen and Chickens Group off NE North Island). Reintroduction. 16 skinks reintroduced from Sail Rock, March and December 2000, and a further 14 translocated December 2000. McGregor’s skinks are assumed to have been absent due to kiore, which were eradicated in 1993. Monitoring was carried out in 2001 and 2002. In 2001 four skinks (2 males, 2 females) were caught. In 2002 8 skinks were caught, and one female was heavily gravid.Contact Richard Parrish.

MarbledSkink(Oligosoma oliveri)

Korapuki Island (17 ha, Mercury Group off NE North Island). 18 animals from Green Island were released November 1992 – March 1993 as part of the island’s restoration programme (see Towns 1994, and entries for Robust Skink, Whitaker’s Skink, and Egg-laying Skink). Rabbits had been eradicated from Korapuki in 1986 and kiore had been eradicated in 1987. Contact Dave Towns.

OrnateSkink(Oligosomaornata)

ornate skink reintroductions

Matiu/Somes Island (25 ha, Wellington Harbor). On 4 November 2006, 26 ornate skinks (Photo: A. Morrison) were released onto mammalian predator free Matiu/Somes Island (24.9 ha, in Wellington Harbour). The founder group consisted of 8 males, 11 females, and 6 juveniles. While it is unclear whether ornate skinks were originally on Matiu/Somes, the species is identified for translocation in the Matiu/Somes management plan and will advance the task of restoring a coastal forest community representative of the Wellington ecological district. The source of animals was unusual, over half of the 26 skinks were caught and brought home alive by a single pet cat in the Wellington suburb of Kelburn, the rest were salvaged from a garden undergoing landscaping in Wellington city. The skinks were held in captivity over winter in preparation for a release in spring. Brett Gartrell’s team at the New Zealand Wildlife Health Centre screened the skinks for diseases and, after confirming that a photo id could be used to identify individuals, each skink had mug shots taken and an identification booklet was made for future monitoring. The skinks were released under roof tiles and macrocarpa logs which will serve as monitoring points. Contact Andrew Morrison.

Matakohe/Limestone Island (Whangarei Harbour). Ornate skinks were translocated to Matakohe/Limestone Island on 26 November 2008. 30 (20 females, 10 males) were collected from Whatupuke Island (Marotere group), of which one died in transit, two held back because they were identified has having Cryptosporidia and the other 27 translocated. The translocation was part of the management plan for the island prepared by Friends of Matakohe/Limestone Island. This plan includes 8 proposed lizard translocations, of which this is the second (shore skinks were translocated in 2007). It was intended that 50 moko skinks be translocated at the same time but only 3 were caught, so were let go on Whatupuke. Another attempt will be made to capture the moko in February 2009. Contact Richard Parish.

Shakespear Regional Park (Whangaparaoa Peninsula North of Auckland). Ornate skinks were translocated to Shakespear Regional Park in February February 2008. 62 animals were taken from the Rodney District Council Wastewater plant adjacent to the park. The purpose was to rescue animals from habitat destruction resulting from wastewater works upgrade. They were caught using pitfall traps, artificial cover objects, and hand capture, and released immediately at Shakespear. Rodent control at Shakespear is planned as part of open sanctuary development starting in 2010. Contact Matt Maitland.

Whitaker’sSkink(Oligosomawhitakeri)

Korapuki Island (17 ha, Mercury Group off NE North Island). 28 animals from Middle Island were released from February 1988 – March 1990, as part of the island’s restoration programme (see Towns 1994). Rabbits had been eradicated from Korapuki in 1986 and kiore had been eradicated in 1987. Subsequent data collected indicates a self-sustaining population, but with a rate of increase of only 5-9% per annum (Towns 1995, Reintroduction News 11: 3-4; Towns 1999, Reintroduction News 17: 18-19). Towns (1999) notes that low rates of increase are typical of some Clyclodina species, and that monitoring programmes need to be designed to reflect this. Translocation strategies for all lizards on Korapuki have been to minimise translocation distance (with the aim of matching microhabitats), use immediate releases (to avoid using holding facilities and risking contact with diseases/parasites), and to typically take about 30 individuals (to avoid inbreeding while also avoiding damage to source populations). Also see Robust Skink, Marbled Skink and Egg-laying Skink. Contact Dave Towns.

MokohinauSkink(Oligosomatownsi)

This endangered skink only survived on five small islands in the Marotere Islands (Hen and Chickens Group), all less than 5ha. It has been reintroduced to the three largest of the Marotere Islands, totalling 330ha. In all cases the reintroduction followed the eradication of kiore (Pacific rats) which are assumed to have resulted in extirpation of the skinks. No further releases are planned within the Marotere group. Monitoring to see if they successfully establish will continue at 5 yearly intervals. The 3 islands are:

Lady Alice Island (138 ha). The first reintroduction attempt was in March 1997 when 14 skinks were reintroduced from Muriwhenua Island following eradicated of kiore in 1994. However, no Mokohinau skinks have subsequently been recaptured on Lady Alice, so this reintroduction may have been unsuccessful. These skinks were released into forest in a valley, and may have left the area chosen (3 skinks caught the year after the first release were found at the opposite corner of our monitoring quadrat, some 20 m away from release site). The second attempt was in 2005 when 46 skinks (17 females, 14 males, 1 juvenile) from Muriwhenua Island were released at West Bay of Lady Alice Island. Lady Alice is assumed to have had this species historically since the source site is very close (1.2 km) from Lady Alice and was connected about 3000-5000 BP. The reintroduction is part of restoration of Marotere Islands following eradication of Pacific rats in 1994. This time they were released into a beach boulder area, more similar to where they came from. The skinks were caught in 4-litre paint pails over 4 days, transported in cloth bags, and held in those bags or in plastic bins with forest litter until processed.

Whatupuke Island (102 ha). 22 skinks were reintroduced from Middle Stack (200 m away) in March and December 2000, and a further 8 translocated in December 2000, following eradication of kiore in 1993. Four were caught in 33 trap nights in March 2001, and 2 females appeared to be gravid. 11 skinks were caught in 64 trap nights in March 2004. Two of the skinks were juveniles born on the island probably from females gravid at the time of release. However, growth rates of this species are unknown and these animals could be the result of breeding at the site.

Coppermine Island (80 ha). 30 skinks were reintroduced from ‘Middle Stack’ in January 2002, following eradication of kiore in 1997.

Contact Richard Parrish.

Speckledskink(Oligosomainfrapunctatum)

Mana Island (217 ha, off SW North Island). Reintroduction. 49 skinks from Takapourewa (Stephens Island) were released in February 2004. They were caught with pit-fall traps, held in termporary enclosures and feed mealworms and jam-water. They were then transferred in plastic containers with damp paper towels individually, and released under driftwood placed on a forest edge, close to both grassland and forest. Ad hoc monitoring to determine survival of individuals is occuring but formal monitoring of population growth and expansion will begin in five years. Contact Lynn Adams.

Maud Island (309 ha, Marlborough Sounds). 40 skinks from Takapourewa (Stephens Island) were released in February 2004, at the same time that they were translocated to Mana Island. They were released on Maud Islandin secondary growth below the main forest.As of December 2008, at least three speckled skinks had been seen and one was unmarked which means they must have been bred on the island. Contact Bill Cash.

SpottedSkink(Oligosomalineoocellatum)

Mana Island (217 ha, off SW North Island). 50 animals were reintroduced from Matui-Somes Island in February 1998, and a further group were translocated in November 1998. The reintroduction was part of theMana Island Ecological Restoration Programme(to be added). In addition, spotted skinks are rare or absent at former mainland sites in the Wellington region (they are also found in Hawkes Bay in the NE South Island). See Griffiths (1999). ContactColin Miskelly.

Egg-layingSkink(Oligosomasuteri)

Korapuki Island (17 ha, Mercury Group off NE North Island). 30 animals from Green Island were released November 1992 – March 1993 as part of the island’s restoration programme (see Towns 1994, and entries for Robust Skink, Marbled Skink and Whitaker’s Skink). Rabbits had been eradicated from Korapuki in 1986 and kiore had been eradicated in 1987. Contact Dave Towns.

BrownSkink(Oligosomazelandicum)

Awaiti Island (4 ha, Tennyson Inlet, Marlborough Sounds). 26 skinks (7 ad males, 7 ad female, 1 ad unknown, 11 juveniles) were released 19 May 2001. The 15 adults had been taken into captivity from Maud Island (Marlborough Sounds) to compare their behaviour with that of the threatened striped skink Oligosoma striatum. These animals, plus their offspring produced in captivity, were then used for reintroduction (assuming the skinks were found there historically) to Awaiti. Awaiti has been rodent-free for 17 years, but has a resident population of weka. Knowing whether skinks can establish in the presence of weka is an important consideration in the restoration of lizard species elsewhere in the Sounds. No lizards had ever been recorded from Awaiti, and a further 50+ trap days using “G Minnow” traps baited with canned pear caught no animals. The release site was in a damp rocky gully to the south of the only landing beach, and the adults and juveniles were about 20 m apart. The skinks will be searched for in the 2001/02 summer, and if some animals are surviving a further 20 adults may be brought from Maud. Contact Peter Gaze.

MokoSkink(Oligosomamoco)

Matakohe/Limestone Island (Whangarei Harbour). In November-December 2009, 49 moko skinks (sex ratio 1:2 male/female) were translocated from Lady Alice, Whatupuke and Coppermine islands (Hen and Chickens group) to Matakhoe.  This is one of 8 planned lizard reintroductions planned as part of the restoration being conducted by Friends of Matakohe/Limestone Island Society.  The island had a long history of being mined for limestone to make cement and also farming.  All the lizards were transported individually in ice cream containers with a tube of black plastic alkathene pipe to shelter in. Food in the form of mealworms was provided. They were taken to Massey University Albany Campus for disease screening. No disease was detected and all lizards were released on Matakohe on Christmas Eve.  Contact Richard Parrish or Cathy & Peter Mitchell..

OtagoSkink(Oligosomaotagense)

Pest-proof enclose near Alexandra (0.25 ha, Central Otago).  The Central Otago Ecological Trust undertook a trial reintroduction of 6 adult females and 6 adult males to a 0.25-ha pest-free fenced area near Alexandra on 28 November 2009. The area is dryland habitat of schist rock outcrops and native shrubs. The Trust acknowledge that this is a high-risk project as all skinks are captive-bred and highly inbred. However, such skinks are in surplus supply so we are using the translocation as a learning tool in anticipation of translocating wild skinks in the future. Supplemental feeding will be ongoing until the native shrubs bear fruit in February. A photo-resight monitoring programme of skinks in place, as well as monitoring of pre-existing populations of common skinks and geckos.  Photo monitoring of vegetation is also in place. A larger area (14 ha) adjacent to the pest fence is undergoing habitat restoration in anticipation of possibly expanding the pest fence and intensifying the reintroduction programme to include other lizard species. Contact: Grant Norbury.

ShoreSkink(Oligosomasmithi)

Tiritiri Matangi Island (220ha, Hauraki Gulf). A total of 30 shore skinks were introduced to Tiritiri Matangi Island from Tawharanui Regional Park, in December 2006. Animals were caught by pitfall traps and by hand-searching at Tawharanui, disease-screened for Salmonella and Cryptosporidia at Massey University. The translocation was part of the ecosystem restoration of the island, where the species previously existed on the island. Post-translocation monitoring (using pitfall traps, funnel traps, artificial refuges and tracking tunnels) was conducted every season for two years by Massey University, and will be continued by the Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi Island, in conjunction with their long-term translocated reptile monitoring plan for the island. Contact person Marleen Baling.

Motuora Island (80ha, Hauraki Gulf). A total of 30 shore skinks were introduced to Motuora Island from Tawharanui Regional Park, in December 2006. Animals were caught by pitfall traps and by hand-searching at Tawharanui, and disease-screened for Salmonella and Cryptosporidia at Massey University. The translocation was part of the island restoration plan, and is within the species’ geographic range. Post-translocation monitoring (using pitfall traps, funnel traps, artificial refuges and tracking tunnels) was conducted every season for two years by Massey University, and will be continued by the Motuora Restoration Society, in conjunction with their long-term translocated reptile monitoring plan for the island. Contact person Marleen Baling.

Matakohe/Limestone Island (Whangarei Harbour). In xxx 2007, xxx shore skinks (sex ratio xxx) were translocated from xxxto Matakhoe.  This is one of 8 planned lizard reintroductions planned as part of the restoration being conducted by Friends of Matakohe/Limestone Island Society.  The island had a long history of being mined for limestone to make cement and also farming.  Contact Richard Parrish or Cathy & Peter Mitchell.

Papakohatu/Crusoe Island (1 ha island, Hauraki Gulf).  In January 2010 xxx shore skinks were translocated from Tawharanui Regional Park and from a captive population originally sourced from Tawharanui to Papakohatu, a 1ha island with regenerated native vegetation. A second translocation of wild-caught skinks is planned for Mar 2010.  Skinks were caught by hand searching and held individually during transport and quarantine. Disease screening took place for Cryptosporidium and Salmonella using faecal samples and cloacal swabs respectively. The key objectives of the translocation of shore skinks were to re-establish shore skink to part of its former range on an island in the Hauraki Gulf and to contribute to the ecological restoration of Papakohatu. ContactMatt Baber.

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