Creature comforts

Working to relocate peripatus habitat within the Caversham Valley yesterday are (from left) resident and ecological adviser Dave Randle, Opus International team leader for land and water Roger MacGibbon, Downer project manager Mark Woodward and Opus International ecologist Trevor Connolly.

They were preparing the area in which a highway extension will be constructed by Downer, for the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).

Yesterday marked the beginning of physical work on site for the second phase of the overall highway development.

NZTA project manager Simon Underwood said the habitat of peripatus, a rare invertebrate which lived in the area, was being moved away from the construction footprint and deeper into nearby reserves. The aim was to protect the species from construction and ensure its habitat remained in the Caversham Valley Bush Reserve and Lookout Point Reserve.

"It's the least disruptive thing we can do," he said.

Downer will then remove about 30 houses, bought by the NZTA, which will take about six weeks.

Final site clearance of vegetation would occur in January, allowing construction to begin in February or March, Mr Underwood said. The NZTA planned to monitor the peripatus population within the area.




Ancient or mythical Peripatus ?

The Caversham peripatus worm seems to be hard to find, or perhaps camera shy. For me, its existence in the area is not yet proven. An earlier ODT photo of one, apparently taken in the area, appeared to be deceased. The photo of the live one, shown above, seems to have been taken elsewhere. An update of the state of the NZTA monitoring should help to determine whether the Caversham population was genuine, transplanted or non-existent.

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