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Search on for lizards, insects and birds

The endangered Northern Spotted Skink. PHOTO/FILE

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Four Sustainable Wairarapa projects have gained $26,838 from the Department of Conservation 2020 community fund allocations announced this week.

Two projects are lizard surveys, one at Onoke Spit, Ocean Beach and the other at Castlepoint Scenic Reserve. The funding was to pay for a herpetologist – a zoologist who studies reptiles and amphibians.

“The funding enables Wildlands Consultants and the local communities to better understand the lizard biodiversity present and allows for future better targeted lizard conservation,” SW member Jim O’Malley said.

The lizards haven’t been surveyed for about 20 years.

The Castlepoint survey area is around the rocks to the left of the steps up to the lighthouse. Four of the eight species of skink and gecko that exist in eastern Wairarapa have declining populations and, the speckled skink is at risk of extinction.

SW also monitor the endangered Wairarapa katipo spider population at the spit. It has applied for DOC funding but as the katipo comes under the 1953 Wildlife Act, they have struck some delays while a spider specialist was organised to approve a new project.

Greater Wellington Regional Council described the spit as an uncommon, nationally valuable, coastal ecosystem.

Rare and threatened native species live there including the black-fronted tern, nesting caspian terns and banded dotterel, the rare katipo spider, notoreas moth, two species of lizard, sand tussock, pinatoro [sand daphne], and pingao [golden sedge].

Another funded project is for a beetle and moth survey of some Wairarapa forested and, urban locations. This survey was to better understand the region’s insect biodiversity.

“We are doing this work at six scattered locations such as Cape Palliser, Carter Scenic Reserve, Aorangi Range and Fensham Reserve to get an idea of what we have actually got,” O’Malley said.

The fourth funded project was to set up 10 acoustic monitoring units in the Rewa Bush Conservation Area and on private land for ongoing bird monitoring. These were to find native bats and birds.

Another unfunded project the group was involved with was the Ponatahi Lizard project on the property of Tim Hewitt where he has established a lizard sanctuary.

The DOC fund supported 116 community conservation projects to the tune of $5.44 million.

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