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Moko skink returned to Whangamata

Date:  22 December 2009

Moko skink were returned to Whangamata harbour on the weekend before Christmas in conditions perfect for a release. 200 skinks, temporarily housed by carers for the past 18 months, were released at two sites around the harbour edges that had been selected because they best suited the requirements of the lizard.

'Moko skink prefer to live on the coast, in open areas with low vegetation - edges of harbours where there are grassy banks and salt marshes are ideal' said Paul Gasson, the Department of Conservation’s (DOC’s) Biodiversity Manager for the Hauraki area.

DOC staff, lizard carers and iwi transporting skink to release site.
DOC staff, lizard carers and iwi helping
tranport skink to release site

On hand to assist DOC with the release were representatives of Ngati Whanaunga and some of the lizard carers. The skinks, a mixture of juvenile and adults, including pregnant females, were transported in specially adapted hard plastic containers and made the way to their new home by boat.

'It was a real journey for them - first a car ride, then a boat trip, and finally a short walk along the beach but with everyone helping we managed to move the 200 in a relatively short time' said Paul.

The skinks were removed from their habitat in 2007 after they were discovered on the site that has been subsequently developed into a marina.