One of the first baby Otago skinks found in Mokomoko Sanctuary

The Mokomoko Dryland Sanctuary consists of two pest-proof fences, designed to exclude all pest mammals including mice. One fence (0.3 ha) is for experimental releases where translocated lizards can be easily monitored, and the other fence is 14 ha for full translocations.

In November 2009, the trust introduced 12 captive-bred Otago skinks inside the small fence. Three skinks immediately disappeared, which meant nine entered the winter of 2010. All nine have since been re-sighted, and in January and February 2011, three baby skinks were sighted (see photo above). These encouraging results led to a further release of 16 skinks. Mice inadvertently entered the fence shortly after this second release and some were seen attacking skinks. This led to reduced survival of the second tranche, but not of the first tranche, presumably because the first tranche were already established and knew where to seek refuge from mice. The mice have since been eradicated. The survival rate of skinks in the absence of mice (0.83 pa) has been similarly high compared with the survival of skinks in the wild where they are protected from predators. We therefore consider our trial translocation a success for the time being.

We have been restoring the habitat, and eradicating the pests, inside the 14-ha fence with a view to translocating lizards in spring 2018.

Mokomoko sanctuary

Mokomoko Dryland Sanctuary
Mokomoko fence close up

Close-up of the Mokomoko Dryland Sanctuary pest-proof fence
Herbivore proof fence

Herbivore-proof fence erected to facilitate the expansion of the Mokomoko Dryland Sanctuary