11 Feb 2009

Rare tuatara returned to island

7:29 pm on 11 February 2009

The Department of Conservation is to release 14 tuatara of rare Cuvier Island descent back to their ancestral home on Wednesday.

The reptiles are a product of the Auckland Zoo breeding scheme started in 1990 to boost dwindling numbers.

To date, 34 tuatara have been released on the island, off the Coromandel Peninsula.

The department says the programme has proven very successful despite the reptiles being slow to breed and grow.

It says the survival rate for tutatara once released is very high as its main predator, rats, were eradicated from the island in 1993.