Thirty more tuatara are settling into their new home at
They joined 44 wild adults and juveniles which had arrived
three weeks ago from Stephens Island, in Cook Strait.
The new arrivals were captive-reared juveniles from Nga Manu
Nature Reserve at Waikanae.
Their arrival brings the total number of tuatara at Orokonui
to 89, including 15 juveniles that had been raised at an
enclosure within the predator-proof fence at Orokonui, 13 of
which were also released this week.
Ecosanctuary general manager Chris Baillie said the release
of the tuatara into specially prepared burrows inside the
fence went really well.
Before their release, transmitters were attached to some of
the tuatara, mostly females, so researchers could keep track
of where they were nesting.
The two groups would be kept separate initially while
comparative studies of their dispersal patterns were
undertaken by scientists from the University of Otago, she
Readings from the transmitters on the Stephen's Island
tuatara showed one had already moved 800m from its release
"They're exploring their new home and finding new places."
Orokonui trust board chairman Neville Peat said because
Orokonui was the southernmost location for free-roaming
tuatara, there was a good deal of scientific interest in
seeing how they adapted.
"The release sites are well away from the public walking
tracks so that the tuatara will not be disturbed," he said.