Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Critically Endangered Mauritian skinks breeding fast at Durrell

Trio of female Mauritian skinks kick-start breeding programme in Jersey
September 2012. The breeding skills of three female orange-tailed skinks have impressed conservationists and given the new safety net population for their Critically Endangered reptile species a real chance for the future.
16 juveniles and 4 eggs
Over the past four months at the Durrell headquarters in Jersey, the females have produced a staggering 16 juveniles between them, all of which are doing well, and another 4 eggs are currently incubating. This is despite the fact that female skinks produce only two large eggs at one time and the trio were the only females out of 22 rescued orange-tailed skinks that were brought to Durrell a year ago that were able to breed; the others were still too small or male.
Matt Goetz, Head of Durrell's Herpetology Department, said: "These three orange-tailed skinks have gone above and beyond our expectations for them since they arrived at Durrell a year ago and started breeding in March. When they were rescued from Flat Island in Mauritius following the invasion of the predatory Indian musk shrew, we knew that a safety net population elsewhere was going to be essential as their numbers were critically low.
But even in our wildest dreams, we couldn't have hoped that the females would get off to such a flying start. They are clearly happy and healthy, and we are delighted that population numbers of the orange-tailed skink in Jersey are increasing so rapidly."
Tourism development led to local extinction
The invasion of Flat Island by the Indian musk shrew followed the development of tourism there and sadly recent surveys have confirmed that no orange-tailed skinks have survived on the island.

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