Tuatara in New Zealand are the last surviving members of the order Sphenodontia that was around during the time of the dinosaurs. They like cool weather and have an average lifespan of 60 years though some may survive up to 100 years. In the wild, the tuatara can only be found on the islands around New Zealand. They are no longer on the mainland and went extinct when the Maori introduced the rat to New Zealand. In 2003, the tuatara was reintroduced to Tiritiri Matangi Island after an absence of 100 years.
Graham Ussher and his 1999 thesis was responsible for the reintroduction of the species to the island. Ussher was granted approval to capture 60 tuataras on Middle Island. A decade later, he led a team that looked for tuatara on the island to evaluate the efficacy of his plan. They found 23 of the original tuataras and eight young. The team concluded that there were probably 80 tuataras on the island. Ussher wasn’t the only one responsible for the return of tuatara, but it was his writing that helped garner the interests and approval to bring the tuatara back.
Tirtiri Matangi was one of our favorite places in New Zealand, and the first place we saw little penguins. This information was adapted from the “Dawn Chorus,” the magazine for Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi Island. I am giving $1 from every copy of “Polly Penguin Wants to Fly” to support Tiritiri Matangi Island and the work they do with little penguins and other New Zealand wildlife. You can get your copy in eBook format or paperback on Amazon, or you can order a signed copy from http://www.penguinate.com.