The secret lives of lizards

For many years lizard populations have been destroyed without anyone realising that it’s been happening or understanding the consequences.

For many years lizard populations have been destroyed without anyone realising that it’s been happening or understanding the consequences.

Boffa Miskell ecologist Simon Chapman says their vulnerability is due to their ‘cryptic’ qualities; small, coloured and patterned for camouflage, and adept at hiding in nooks and crannies.

Consequently, they can be so difficult to detect that no-one sees them until the site-clearing machinery arrives.

Nowadays, resource consents increasingly require lizard protection, as awareness grows of New Zealand’s unique lizard fauna with its notable number of rare or endangered species. Consequently, Boffa Miskell has been involved in identifying and assessing the significance of lizard populations on development sites and then implementing their protection.

Simon says that our native reptiles often take refuge in the weedy areas that can occur on disturbed sites – infestations of pampass grass or wandering willy, for instance.

“They can be really difficult to spot and to get at for translocation before removing the weed cover.”

To address this problem Boffa Miskell ecologists have developed techniques to supervise habitat deconstruction as it happens on site, rescue the lizards as they are discovered and then translocate them to suitable locations where they can, once more, adopt their cryptic habits.

1 April 2008