A further 15 critically endangered Otago skinks will be released into a fenced sanctuary near Alexandra this week, boosting the population of skinks already thriving at the sanctuary.
The Central Otago Ecological Trust (COET) and the Department of Conservation (DOC) are releasing the captive-bred skinks on Friday 25 November. Nine of the 15 skinks being released are mature adults and the others are younger animals not yet of breeding age.
They will join the 12 skinks released into the Alexandra sanctuary two years ago which have begun breeding. This was a test to see if the skinks could survive in the area.
COET Chairman Grant Norbury said the sanctuary had proven to be successful by achieving the 70 percent survival rate needed for the population to grow. The new skinks will provide genetic diversity to the population once they mature.
“The birth of three skinks in February this year proved that returning captive-bred skinks to the wild does work,” Mr Norbury said.
The 15 captive-bred skinks are presently in quarantine at Macraes and their return to the wild will be good news for the species which had become extinct in the Alexandra area.