DOC sets sight on saving rare lizards
Whitireia Park was once crawling with lizards, but because of mice, rats, feral cats and stoats they are becoming harder to find.
A recent survey of the park escarpment found only one rare lizard, a copper skink.
Altogether, 43 skinks and five geckos were caught in the 115 pitfall traps in the area.
The traps were open for five nights in early April.
Department of Conservation partnership ranger Angus Hulme- Moir said the decline was a concern.
‘‘We would like to reverse that process, so we are undertaking pest control,’’ he said.
‘‘ Lizards are
amazing creatures. They have not been particularly well attended to, so we want to be part of that story.
‘‘Lots of New Zealanders like to know our rare and iconic species are being looked after.
’’Although we don’t get to see those species a whole lot, you find a lot of Kiwis remember seeing lizards in their gardens or nearby and don’t see them any more.
‘‘ Knowing there is a place nearby where they are being looked after and protected would please locals.’’
Porirua is home to some of New Zealand’s rarest skinks, including the Whitaker’s skink in Pukerua Bay and the McGregor’s skink on Mana Island.
Hulme-Moir said the Department of Conservation had hoped to find some rare lizards around the steep cliffs of the park.
The Whitireia Restoration Group received $7500 of funding from the World Wildlife Fund for the survey and other restoration work.
Despite the lack of rare lizards, the habitat at Whitireia Park was in good condition, Hulme-Moir said.
He said the traps would remain in place and rangers would follow up with another survey next year.
‘‘It’s good to know that the lizards in the park are reasonably safe given our current pest control and the excellent habitat there.’’
To volunteer for future projects, contact Chris Gibbons, firstname.lastname@example.org.