Reptiles and amphibians rather than birds have featured prominently this past month at Orokonui. The Visitor Centre's new resident, the jewelled gecko, has been fun to spot or watch exploring his new vivarium and the holiday programme which was devoted to frogs included some of the live sort as well.
Carey Knox and Karin Ludwig combined geckos and skinks in a wide ranging talk illustrated by two endangered Otago skinks. After disinfecting our hands, the audience and the children from the frog workshop were invited to handle these rarities. These are big skinks and the body alone from snout to vent covered the length of my hand. She flattened herself against my palm to maximise absorption of my body heat and lay there while others touched her leathery skin. The gold on black splotches, her slow breathing and little head somehow gave a sense of the ancient.
Carey, like Karin has worked with Grand and Otago skinks and monitors the jewelled gecko populations at a number of sites including Orokonui, as well. The original translocation to Orokonui in 2008/09 was of 36 individuals and today they number around 62, which is fantastic.
The Visitor Centre and café are open daily 9.30 – 4.30pm.