Awakopaka skink
Image: Carey Knox | ©

Introduction

Awakopaka skink was first discovered in 2014. For years it was not seen again but was finally found in 2019. It is still only known from less than 20 individuals at one small location.

Highlights

Scientific name: Oligosoma awakopaka
New Zealand status: Endemic
Conservation status: Threatened, Nationally Critical
Primary Threats: Unknown, but likely mammalian predators, including mice

Description

Length: Up to 77 mm from nose to the base of its tail.
Awakopaka skink population: Only known from less than 20 individuals from one location.
Food: Invertebrates, fruit, nectar.

Distribution

We are running surveys to better understand the species distribution, but it is currently only known in an alpine area near Homer Saddle, Fiordland. It inhabits the alpine zone and shelters under large boulders and rocks.

Challenges

Awakopaka skink is a cryptic and highly distinctive skink, discovered in 2014, and currently known only from Homer Saddle, Fiordland. The species is only known from a small number of individuals and little is known about its biology and threats to population persistence. 

The meaning of its name is the “skink that lives in the footprints of mighty glaciers”.

What we’re doing to learn more

We are focused on understanding the species distribution, how best to survey this species, and understanding its preferred habitats and likely threats. This information will help define which populations should be protected and the threats present at these sites.

How you can help

We are very keen to learn of any sightings of lizards in the alpine zone of South Island mountains – the area above the tree and shrub zones. If you have seen a lizard in the alpine zone, we would like to hear from you. Send us:

  • a photo of the lizard
  • a photo of the area where you found it
  • exact location information. 

Send your information to: lizardresearch@doc.govt.nz

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