Tuatara relocated to ecological island
'A long cherished dream'JENNA LYNCH
There was precious cargo aboard a flight to Hamilton yesterday as 60 tuatara travelled toward their new home.
The reptiles were rehomed to their new predator-free dwelling, Maungatautari Ecological Island - the former residence of everyone's favourite kakapo, Sirocco.
The Waikato-based tuatara were among the 240 which were part of the largest ever relocation of tuatara from Stephens Island in Cook Strait - which is home to around 40,000.
Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust general manager Malcolm Anderson said the addition of the tuatara was a "milestone for the trust".
"The arrival of tuatara has been a long cherished dream for many staff, volunteers and mana whenua," he said.
Even Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe took time out to lend a hand in the safe travel of the tuatara aboard his airline.
Mr Fyfe said although the nocturnal creatures were not big travellers, the airline was happy to be involved in their relocation.
"Tuatara are not jetsetters by nature, in fact they don't generally travel more than about 20 metres from their burrows over the entire course of their lives. We're very happy to be able to give them the assistance they need to return to healthy mainland populations," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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