Story of hope for two threatened lizards

Blue-tailed skink | An invasive gecko could be a big threat to native reptiles

Blue-tailed skink | These lizards wave their tails to communicate with one another!

Today, Threatened Species Day, commemorates the death of the last known Tasmanian tiger in a Hobart zoo in 1936. The concept for this day was developed in 1996 to focus attention on the plight of Australia’s threatened species.

Parks Australia is noting this day with a story of hope for two little reptiles found only on Christmas Island until…

We joined forces with Taronga Zoo in Sydney to build on a captive breeding program that began on Christmas Island in 2009.

The breeding program was aimed at resurrecting the diminishing populations of this beautiful blue-tailed skink now restricted to just one remote site on the island and its equally rare cousin, the nationally vulnerable Lister’s gecko which was thought extinct until 2009 when a small population was rediscovered.

Lister's gecko, Lepidodactylus listeri, found only on Christmas Island

The Lister’s gecko was thought extinct for more than 20 years until a small population was rediscovered in 2009

Recently, these jet-setting lizards took the long flight to Sydney to set up off-island populations at Taronga Zoo providing insurance against any on-island catastrophes as well as a source of individuals for re-introducing the species back to their natural island home.

In the meantime work continues at Christmas Island National Park to identify and overcome the key threats to these lizards which include habitat clearing and predation by introduced species such as the Asian wolf snake.

Christmas Island National Park’s Natural Resource Manager Mike Smith discusses the program.

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