Park helps in skink recovery

Kiwi Birdlife Park assistant manager Nicole Kunzmann holds an Otago skink. Photo by Christina McDonald.
Kiwi Birdlife Park assistant manager Nicole Kunzmann holds an Otago skink. Photo by Christina McDonald.
critical decline of Otago and western grand skinks in the wild was reversed for a time at Queenstown's Kiwi Birdlife Park when 21 baby skinks were born there between mid-February and late March.

The park has been housing skinks, which were removed from their Grandview Range habitat in the Lindis, before they are flown to other wildlife centres as part of a breed-for-release programme.

Department of Conservation grand and Otago skink project manager Gavin Udy said the programme aimed to increase the population of both species so they could be released back into secure sites within their former range.

Doc's skink project looked after two groups of the animals - an eastern group near Macrae's Flat and a western group.

The eastern group's numbers were increasing, thanks to a predator-proof fence, and trapping.

The focus was now on the western group.

Eighty-five endangered Otago and grand skinks were collected as part of the project and groups of skinks would be flown to Wellington and Auckland zoos to spend time in quarantine. A group was put on a flight yesterday.

Some of the skinks sent to the North Island would then come back to the Kiwi Birdlife Park where a new facility is planned for them.

Assistant park manager Nicole Kunzmann said it was important to show residents and visitors animals which had come from the local area and in five years' time the skinks would probably be released into the wild.