Monday, November 30, 2009

Otago Skinks

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to be at the release back into the wild of 12 Otago Skinks.
The Central Otago Ecological Trust has built a predator proof fence around a large outcrop of schist rock south of where I live, named the Mokomoko Dryland Sanctuary. Though it is not a big area, it is ideal for a population of this large colourful lizard.
There were speeches, a bit of a background on the Trust, and a bit of history of the skink, large numbers of which used to populate this land. Cats, rats and other nasties have meant that there has not been one found in the wild here since the mid 1970's. A shame really, as they are a very good animal for photographs, if you are quick enough. Anyway, the event was organised by very enthusiastic Landcare scientist Grant Norbury, and there were many other experts there as well. The skinks were named by the children from the Alexandra Primary School, and the one in the photo is 'Stumpy', though I could not see why he deserved such a name.
The hands in the photo belong to Steph Hicks, who has been working with lizards for some time, and school children Hannah Dudfield and Tess Diver. While it would have been nice if Stumpy had stopped for a few seconds after being released so we could get photos, he thought the shady bit just in front of him looked like the place to be and he took off. I hope he and his mates enjoy their new home.

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