Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 

New Reserve For Kapitia Skinks

One hundred special skinks now have a safe new home with the establishment of the Department of Conservation’s predator free Kapitia Scientific Reserve near Hokitika.

 Kapitia skink. Lynn Adams/DOC

The Kapitia skinks, found only in a one-kilometre coastal strip near Hokitika, were badly impacted by Cyclone Fehi in 2018 with 50 skinks taken in by Auckland Zoo at the time.

The skinks have a salmon-coloured prehensile tail which they use to grip objects and help them climb. Researchers think they were adapted to climbing trees.

Department of Conservation (DOC) Hokitika Operations Manager Owen Kilgour says 42 of the skinks now in the reserve travelled back this week aboard an Air New Zealand flight from their temporary home at Auckland Zoo.

“Cyclone Fehi devastated 40 percent of their habitat in 2018 and it’s likely many skinks were displaced or killed. We had to ensure the species survived and asked Auckland Zoo for help. They took 50 skinks at short notice and have done an amazing job of caring for them, as well as breeding 15 additional animals from them.

“Altogether there are fewer than 300 Kapitia skinks remaining in the wild. As well as threats to their habitat from storm damage, they’re vulnerable to predators such as mice, which attack them if they are too cold to move and eat them alive.

“We knew after Cyclone Fehi that we’d have to establish a safe home for the skinks if they were to survive and we now have that in the Kapitia Scientific Reserve.”

The reserve is a 1.3 ha piece of land within the range of the Kapitia skinks. There is a 1.8 m high predator proof fence around it and the adjacent small piece of road reserve. The reserve was declared predator free in late October.

“Over the past few days DOC staff have gathered about another 60 Kapitia skinks from the wild to add to those from Auckland Zoo,” Owen Kilgour says.

“It’s very exciting to see the reserve. We want to thank all those who’ve contributed to this achievement.

“My colleague Shane Hall, who’s the Greymouth Operations Manager, first spotted the skinks in 1992 on land he owned at the time. He realised they were different from other skinks and really started this process.

“DOC’s lizard technical advisory group has been a huge support for this project from the start and I’m really grateful for the dedication of our Hokitika staff.

“Auckland Zoo has also done a fantastic job.”

The Zoo’s ectotherms specialists say it’s been a privilege to be able to care for, and successfully breed, this rare taonga, as part of a team effort to help ensure the species’ future.

“It was with great excitement our ectotherms team packed up 42 of the skinks for their journey south for release into the new Kapitia Scientific Reserve,” says Auckland Zoo’s Head of Animal Care & Conservation and herpetologist, Richard Gibson.

“As a conservation science organisation, utilising our intensive management skills to benefit wildlife like this is what we all live for. Here at the Zoo, we’re still caring for three juveniles (too young to be released yet), as well as 20 gravid females, who with their offspring will in time also be released to further boost the Kapitia skink population.”

Owen Kilgour paid tribute to the specialist fencers who worked at the reserve under some wet and trying conditions. This included wrangling 3.6 m-long poles and heavy mesh in mud and rain.

“We want to acknowledge Ngāti Waewae and local landowners too for their support of this project and Westland District Council, which allowed the road reserve to be used,” he says.

The skinks travelled with Air New Zealand from Auckland to Hokitika via Christchurch on Wednesday.

Air New Zealand is DOC's National Partner for Conservation and has supported DOC to fly over 4000 native animals and conservation dogs since 2012.

Kapitia skinks were formerly known as Chesterfield skinks, referring to the locality in which they were found. Māori know the area as Kapitia and in November 2020 the skinks were named the Kapitia skink.

The official opening of the reserve was scheduled for tomorrow but has been postponed due to a severe weather watch for Westland.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Ethics Of Omicron Treatment, Plus A Playlist


As the Omicron infection wave prepares to break across New Zealand, the “red” condition is likely to be more of a form of gestural politics, than as a useful shield. Good ideas like masks and social distancing and limits on social gatherings are not going to do much to slow down the rate of infections. At base, the traffic light system has been a mechanism devised to enable businesses to continue to operate, regardless of the state or public health. It was created in response to the Delta outbreak, and it took final shape just as Omicron emerged in South Africa...
More>>



 
 


Save The Children: Thousands Join Call To Retain New Zealand’s Children’s Commissioner

More than 6000 Kiwis have joined Save the Children New Zealand’s call to retain the vital role of Children’s Commissioner, as the Government considers a new bill proposing major changes to the office, including the removal of a named Children’s Commissioner... More>>


Science Media Centre: Omicron Outbreak Would Move The Country To Red - Expert Reaction

The Prime Minister has announced if Omicron cases spread into the community, the country will move to the traffic light system's Red setting within 48 hours. Jacinda Ardern also mentioned there will be changes to the country's testing regime, with more use of Rapid Antigen Tests... More>>


Government: New Zealand Prepared To Send Support To Tonga

New Zealand is ready to assist Tonga in its recovery from Saturday night’s undersea eruption and tsunami, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare said today... More>>


TradeMe: Property Prices Increase By A Record 25% In One Year
In December, the national average asking price jumped by a quarter year on year, to reach a new high of $956,150, according to the latest Trade Me Property Price Index. Trade Me Property Sales Director Gavin Lloyd said last month’s national average asking price increase was the largest on record... More>>


Statistics: Departures Lift Border Crossing Numbers

The number of people crossing New Zealand’s border went up in November 2021, mostly due to an increase in departures, Stats NZ said today. There were 28,700 border crossings in November 2021, made up of 12,300 arrivals and 16,400 departures... More>>


Financial Services Federation: Open Letter To Government From Non-bank Lenders: The Path Forward On CCCFA Changes
Responsible lenders are not interested in telling the Government “I told you so” when it comes to unintended consequences of changes to lending laws that are now causing grief for everyday Kiwis seeking finance... More>>

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels