Conservation staff on the DOC Poneke area-managed Matiu/Somes Island in Wellington Harbour are preparing for an exciting arrival on Friday’s 10 am ferry sailing.
15 rare Wellington green geckos, seven of which have spent the last twelve months on ‘sabbatical’ at the city’s Karori Sanctuary, are being released on the island on Friday 15 November as part of an annual translocation programme – the largest to date.
DOC first began translocating green geckos to the island sanctuary in 2006 to create a self-sustaining population on this predator-free island. They have been working with local lizard breeders to ensure a genetically diverse supply of geckos for release on a yearly basis. This year, 16 lucky local school children with a special interest in conservation have been chosen to take part in the release.
‘Establishing a safe population on Matiu/Somes will help ensure survival’, said DOC biodiversity ranger Brent Tandy.
Local lizard enthusiasts and conservation projects like Karori Sanctuary play a critical support role for DOC’s gecko recovery programme in terms of both advocacy and breeding. One year old animals are taken to the Sanctuary for display in a special gecko enclosure before being released on the island at two years old.
Reptiles being rescued from the perils of city life to enjoy the tranquillity of Matiu/Somes Island are to be outfitted in the style of lounge lizards sporting “ipods”.
Green geckos rescued from the clutches of urban cats or raised in captivity, will be fitted out with tiny green “lounging” jackets before starting a new life on the Department of Conservation-managed sanctuary in Wellington Harbour later this year. It’s not about protecting them from Wellington’s notorious winds, or creating a reptilian fashion statement.