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Recovery and protection of Moko skinks a priority

2 July 2008

Recovery and protection of Moko skinks a priority

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is working closely with iwi, the local council and the Whangamata Marina Society to protect Moko skinks at the planned development site of the Whangamata Marina, Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick said today.

“DOC is working constructively with iwi to identify the best solution to ensure the long-term protection of this native lizard population,” Steve Chadwick said.

The skinks were found during a survey in February and were removed to safety under a DOC special permit. DOC Waikato approved the emergency translocation as work on the development was due to begin.

“The Waikato Conservator approved the translocation after consultation with Hauraki iwi and the North Island Skink Recovery Group. Despite best intentions, I regret that not all iwi with interests in the issue were initially consulted according to normal protocol.

“As soon as DOC became aware of these concerns, the collection of skinks was halted and I am satisfied that iwi have now been brought into the process.”

The skinks were captured by Marina Society ecological consultants, under DOC supervision.

“Thirty-seven skinks were successfully recovered within four days, including 21 females, 11 males and 5 juveniles. Arrangements were made for the skinks to be held locally over winter, allowing time for the department to find possible safe release sites in spring and early summer.

“DOC will do everything it can to find a safe haven for the skinks, as close to their present site as possible, although the most likely place would be an off-shore island.”

Although Moko skinks are categorised as sparse, they are widespread, with at least five mainland populations and around 33 secure populations on offshore islands.

ENDS

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