Otago Daily Times
Land bought as habitat for skinks
A 1.3HA coastal property north of Hokitika has been bought by the Department of Conservation to secure the future of the endangered Chesterfield skink.
Named the Kapitia skink by local iwi, the population numbers about 200 individuals. Currently, about 60 are housed at Auckland Zoo after Cyclone Fehi in 2018 destroyed almost half of the 1ha of habitat where the main part of the population was managed.
The skink has a threat rating of ‘‘nationally critical’’.
Doc operations manager Nicole Kunzmann said they had an incredibly small known habitat area along a 2km stretch of the coast, confirmed by significant searches.
‘‘With the beach adjacent to road reserve being eaten away by coastal erosion, there was a need to secure habitat further inland, which is why the property has been purchased.
‘‘The next step is to build a predatorproof fence to protect the skinks from the multitude of predators . . including cats, stoats, rats and mice.’’
Its experts had located Kapitia skinks on the land bought, which gave confidence it was a good piece of habitat.
‘‘Auckland Zoo is currently running some trials to determine if the skinks like to climb on plants, which is reasonably likely, given their tail is somewhat prehensile — an adaptation for climbing.
‘‘This will help us decide what sort of plants are most suitable for the new habitat.
‘‘We . . . look forward to welcoming the Auckland Zoo skinks back to their new home, once the fence is built and the habitat is ready.’’ — Greymouth Star