New data means we can learn more about the rare Northern striped gecko!

Our Zoo team recently journeyed to Coromandel to join our long-term partners at Mahakirau Forest Sanctuary and kick off a radio telemetry study.

We partnered with Mahakirau in 2016 to establish a long-term study for these enigmatic native geckos. This new research will help us to understand more about their movements and how they utilise their habitat, and will include information like where the geckos travel during the day and where they go at night to find food.

So far, more than 150 geckos have been identified, with their ID photographs, weights and measurements added to the database at Mahakirau, which represents 85% of their total known population.

This study is co-supervised by the Zoo’s head animal care and conservation Richard and Jo Monks from Otago University and is being executed by master’s student Harriet Wills. It involves fitting tiny radio transmitter ‘backpacks’ to geckos (each transmitter weighs less than 0.63grams and will not restrict their movement) and monitor their activities for up to 75 days.

“This research, supported partly through Auckland Zoo’s Conservation Fund will finally crack the door open on intimate details of this gecko’s private life and provide a powerful 3D impression of their habitat use. Information gathered over an intense study period - radio-tracking up to 60 individuals through weeks of consecutive ‘nightshifts’, will help inform conservation strategies to best serve the species survival. The Mahakirau Forest Society have already given these aspirations a massive head-start with sustained predator-control throughout the 600-hectare site they oversee. Auckland Zoo are proud to work alongside our partners to achieve positive conservation outcomes for this newly described and poorly understood New Zealand gecko species,” says our curator of ectotherms Don.

Our gratitude to Manu Barry and Kerry White from Massey University, who began preparations for the telemetry study in 2019 but were unable to continue due to the Covid pandemic.


Searching for an elusive New Zealand gecko

Follow our ectotherm experts as they search the native forest at Mahakirau Forest Estate looking for the cryptic northern striped gecko.