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The Christchurch Southern Motorway Stage 2 (CMS2) skink salvage & relocation programme has now been completed. A total of 575 southern grass skinks (scientific name: Oligosoma aff. polychroma Clade 5) were recovered from 10 sites within the CSM2 footprint before the start of construction. The first 300 skinks were released in the Mokomoko Sanctuary (0.25-ha Lizard Habitat Area) on the corner of Springs and Halswell Junction Roads. This area was set aside especially for the skinks and was planted up over the 2015 winter. It will be extended to 1 ha post-construction and given Reserve status for permanent protection. The remaining 275 skinks were released at The Prebbleton Nature Park, with habitat enhancement (addition of rock piles in sunny spots with native plant species favoured by skinks) in place to accommodate the extra animals.
Total trapping effort was substantial (c. 5000 trap-days, where a “trap-day” is one day that one trap is set for).
Skinks were caught in pitfall traps (containers buried in the ground, with bait and a wooden lid that keeps out predators like rats, cats, stoats and hedgehogs). The photo on the right shows two skinks in the trap.
Each skink was transferred to a (breathable) calico bag that was safely stored inside a container.
Jim Hutton enjoying some time in the sun after releasing the last (575th) skink in its new home