DOC sets sight on sav­ing rare lizards

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By RHI­AN­NON MCCON­NELL

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, chris.gib­bons@clear.net.nz.

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