Research Update June 2018: Conservation options for Christmas Island’s blue-tailed skinks

Date: 21, Jun, 2018
Author(s):   Jon-Paul Emery
Publisher: TSR Hub

The blue-tailed skink (Cryptoblepharus egeriae) and Lister’s gecko (Lepidodactylus listeri) are two endemic reptiles to Christmas Island that are now presumed to be extinct in the Wild. Both were once common on the Island, however both declined rapidly from the 1980s, and by 2012 both had vanished from the wild. Fortunately, in 2009 and early 2010, Parks Australia, with the help of Perth Zoo, captured 66 blue-tailed skinks and 43 Lister’s geckos to establish captive breeding populations on Christmas Island and at Taronga Zoo. Captive breeding has circumvented extinction in the short term, with both captive populations now over 1000individuals. However, the facilities on Christmas Island have reached carrying capacity, and there is strong interest in re-establishing wild populations of these two species.