Twenty-one grand and Otago skinks have been born in captivity
since a recent large-scale collection of the endangered
lizards near Wanaka.
Ongoing decline in skink populations prompted the Department
of Conservation (Doc) and several other agencies to collect
85 of the animals from their Grandview Range habitat in the
Lindis in February.
The skinks are being housed temporarily at zoos, wildlife
parks and ecosanctuaries throughout New Zealand as part of a
Doc's Grand and Otago Skink Project manager Gavin Udy said
the project was a great example of agencies and individuals
working together to ensure the survival of an ''iconic,
unique and endangered New Zealand species''.
The Grand and Otago Skink Project looks after two groups of
The eastern group, near Macraes Flat, is increasing because
it is protected by Doc's predator-proof enclosure and
However, Doc cannot at present protect the western group, in
the Grandview Range habitat, so the 21 juveniles will be
released into a predator-proof sanctuary near Alexandra.
''All of those animals are ... slowly working through the
quarantine procedure and going out to their final
destinations,'' Mr Udy said.
Queenstown's Kiwi Birdlife Park is playing a key role in the
project by housing the juvenile skinks before their release.
At the end of the breed-for-release programme in about five
years, the adult skinks will also be released to the
Others involved in the project include: Auckland and
Wellington zoos, the Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust,
the New Zealand Herpetological Society, the Zoo Aquarium
Association, the Central Otago Ecological Trust, Orokonui
Ecosanctuary, the University of Otago and Air New Zealand.
Doc also thanked adjoining landowners and iwi for their