[26 March/The Country]

An Ornate skink, a rare native skink, was found in southern Hawke’s Bay which extended the creature’s known range. The Horizons Regional Council biodiversity advisor spotted an Ornate skink earlier this year at a farm east of Dannevirke. The skink is widespread throughout the North Island, however previously there was a gap in the Hawke’s Bay. HRC Environmental Manager, Ruth Fleeson, said the finding had narrowed the gap and that there may be more. The population size is unknown, but is decreasing due to habitat loss, predators and disturbance according to Ms Fleeson. She added that we needed to reduce predators and restore and create areas of native bush to reduce habitat destruction. Ornate skinks can be identified by the markings around their face with a white or yellow teardrop edged with black below each eye.