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Survey Marks 10 Years of Tuatara on the Mainland

Survey Marks 10 Years of Tuatara on the Mainland

Nicky Nelson handles a large tuatara

Wellington, NZ - Ten years after tuatara were released at ZEALANDIA Ecosanctuary they're being handled again, this time to check the overall size and health of the population.

In a joint project by Victoria University of Wellington and ZEALANDIA, researchers will spend the next three days searching release sites, known burrows, and other sites to weigh and measure the endemic reptiles.

"We know they're breeding in the sanctuary, but as they are completely wild we have no way of knowing how many there are," said ZEALANDIA Conservation Manager Raewyn Empson. "It will be great to get an indication of how they're doing."

70 tuatara were transferred from Stephens Island to ZEALANDIA in 2005 thanks to kaitiaki (tribal guardians) Ngatāi Kōata, making it the first wild population of tuatara on mainland New Zealand in over 200 years. Another 130 were released in 2007.


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