Wellington Green Geckos reared at ZEALANDIA released back on Mana Island
Twenty rare Wellington green geckos – also known as moko kākariki or barking geckos – have recently been released on Mana Island as part of efforts to establish a population on the predator-free island.
ZEALANDIA and Ngā Manu Nature Reserve have been part of a gecko breed for release partnership with the Department of Conservation. Some of the geckos were reared in enclosures at ZEALANDIA and were moved to Ngā Manu Nature Reserve last August as the first step on their journey to becoming wild again.
“Thousands of visitors were able to encounter these incredible animals up-close while they lived at ZEALANDIA,” says Director of ZEALANDIA’s Centre for People and Nature, Dr Danielle Shanahan.
“It is wonderful that they can now complete their journey and become part of the conservation of the species in the wild,” Dr Shanahan adds.
The rest of the animals will still be able to be seen at Ngā Manu and the Wellington Zoo where they will continue to be bred for release on Mana Island and Matiu Somes Island, and potentially within ZEALANDIA.
DOC Senior Ranger Biodiversity Brent Tandy says, “We’re keen to see a population of green geckos established on Mana as an additional, secure site to ensure their long-term survival.”
Meanwhile, ZEALANDIA is focusing its efforts to create habitat for wild geckos in the hope of releasing a population in the sanctuary in coming years.
Dr Shanahan says, “Many Wellingtonians don’t realise that they have incredible skinks and geckos like the moko kākariki living in their own backyards. Planting native species and creating rock or log piles is a great way to create habitat and provide hiding places from predators.”
Photo credit: Jason Plaisted