Gecko release successful

The translocation of jewelled geckos from Otago Peninsula to Orokonui Ecosanctuary has been declared a success, after almost two years.

Three newborn geckos were discovered last week within the predator-proof ecosanctuary, Dr Mandy Tocher said.

"These neonates are the first geckos conceived, gestated and born at Orokonui - and more are expected."

Thirty-six jewelled geckos were translocated to the ecosanctuary in January 2009, from a site on private land destined for development, to expand their distribution and lower the risk of local extinction.

"It's fantastic to have such success in such a short period of time."

The discovery of the newborns was "very exciting" for Dr Tocher as other translocations and reintroductions of geckos elsewhere had been unsuccessful, with most leaving their new home.

However, at Orokonui capture numbers showed at least 11 of the translocated geckos were residents of the ecosanctuary and a further six were "probable residents", she said.

"I'm thrilled at how many have anchored and we suspect more are lurking there.

Last month we saw two geckos we had not seen since translocation."

Added to these tallies were the nine newborns from the geckos who were pregnant when translocated in 2009 and the newborns found last week, bringing the ecosanctuary's population to 29.

Some of the credit was being given to the open-air "soft release pens" Dr Tocher used to house the translocated geckos for about a year before they were released completely into the ecosanctuary.

"It is a new tool, new technology that will be able to be applied to other green geckos, [and] other rare species."

The success meant for the first time researchers could see how a population of geckos live and reproduce without dealing with predators.

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