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Scoop Image: The Skink That Got Away

Department of Conservation (West Coast) Media release 24/11/00

CAPTION Conservation officer Ron van Mierlo checks over a skink found dazed but alive in the ashes of a major fire near the Okirito kiwi sanctuary in South Westland.

DOC has confirmed that no kiwi were injured or killed during a fire on the edge of the Okarito Kiwi Reserve earlier this week. A 1-km fire front devastated a tinder-dry pakahi swamp on the edge of the sanctuary on Sunday night (November 19).

DOC staff spent most of the week tracking and checking on kiwis living in the surrounding forest to satisfy themselves that none had been caught up in the blaze.

During this process they made an unexpected discovery.

DOC spokesman Ian Gill said staff were making their way through part of the fire zone when they came across a scorched but alive 100mm skink in the ashes.

Mr Gill said skinks have not been well documented in the Okarito area and no one is quite sure how this one managed to emerge from the flames relatively unscathed.

He said it was a bonus to be able to include the skink on the West Coast lizard survey while at the same time confirming that none of the 200 kiwi in the 10,000 hectare Okarito reserve had been harmed.

Mr Gill said the skink made a full recovery inside a small hospital room made from damp moss and has been released at Okarito. Ends

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