New Zealand’s largest lizard, and one of the world’s largest geckos, moved onto Motuihe Island this week.
100 Duvaucel’s geckos joined other threatened wildlife already on Motuihe, as part of an ecological restoration programme being implemented by the Motuihe Trust with the support of Iwi and the Department of Conservation.
Geckos play an important role in ecosystems as predator and prey, as well as dispersers of seeds and pollinating plants.
Duvaucel’s geckos are nationally “At Risk” and by reintroducing these animals to Motuihe, the long-term survival of Duvaucel’s gecko will be further assured.
Today, we’re putting the spotlight on recent innovative activity on Motuihe Island — a conservation jewel in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.
Ranger John Mills plays a vital role in everything from glamping to gecko translocations and sponsored road repairs.
Donation benefits conservation
A $2,000 donation of roading materials and labour from Fulton Hogan provided an unexpected boost to conservation efforts on Motuihe.
Paul Hart (left) from Fulton Hogan and DOC’s Motuihe Ranger John Mills, on the road before repairs were carried out
A donated truck load of black top roading mix has enabled DOC to make the necessary repairs to the deteriorating road surface, with spin-off conservation benefits.
DOC Ranger on the island, John Mills, says the donated materials and labour allow DOC and its partner—the Motuihe Island Restoration Trust—to divert more budget and effort to projects with direct conservation benefits.
John Mills says there is also increasing interest from the corporate sector to visit the island for retreats, conservation education and team building.
The lounge retreat, part of the glamping site on Motuihe Island
In early November the island hosted 60 high-achievers from Fuji Xerox Australia for an overnight ‘glamping’ experience.
The overnighter was organised by wildernest.co.nz who booked out camp sites on the island and ensured guests’ meals were fully catered by chefs.
The spectacular glamping site on Motuihe Island
The Fuji Xerox staff helped DOC and the Trust by carrying out a variety of conservation-orientated volunteer work, and the island was returned to its original condition immediately prior to the guests’ departure, with all rubbish and temporary facilities removed by barge.
Trifecta of gecko translocations—two down, one to go!
Three species of gecko are being translocated to Motuihe over the summer months to help restore ecological links and values to the island.
The gecko programme is part of the island’s restoration plan jointly developed by DOC and the Trust, and follows several translocations of rare birds and tuatara.
Geckos were present on the island prior to farming and the arrival of pest animals.
Late last year, 60 common geckos arrived from Otata Island (Noises) to Motuihe on a day which attracted more than 100 volunteers and conservationists, including iwi, the Trust, DOC and community groups.
60 common geckos arrived from Otata Island, which attracted more than 100 volunteers and conservationists
In January 100 Duvaucel’s geckos arrived from Stanley Island (in the Mercury Islands), and in early March 100 Pacific geckos will be translocated from Tarakihi (Shag Island).
With clear waters, sheltered anchorages, visitor facilities and community conservation efforts, the island is particularly popular with summer visitors.
Wendy Jackson provides policy, strategy, and implementation advice for DOC on a number of international conventions relating to wildlife. She attended the recent conference in Thailand on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and reports back.
Green geckos, hammerhead sharks and Madagascar ebony were considered at the recent CITES conference
The increased protection for New Zealand green geckos (Naultinus spp.) is particularly significant for New Zealand. Over the past few years, these species have been subject to high levels of poaching and smuggling, which have contributed to population declines.
North Cape green gecko
The proposal for additional protection was submitted to the other 177 CITES member countries last year, and was adopted by consensus last week at a CITES meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand.
These additional protections increase the ability of authorities (in New Zealand and overseas) to conduct enquiries, investigate illegal activities and makes seizures. It will also mean harsher penalties under international law for people found to be illegally trading in geckos. This is a fantastic outcome for New Zealand and especially for our geckos!
The 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES