When Fiordland National Park rangers arrived to feed Graham in mid July, they found a crime scene. The padlock to Graham’s terrarium was gone. So was Graham.
Graham the Marlborough green gecko was 30 years old, his home was a terrarium near the entrance to the Department of Conservation’s (DOC) Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre. He had outlived the other gecko in the terrarium and provided the sole reptilian welcome to visitors.
Like 76 percent of New Zealand reptiles, Graham faces the risk of extinction through habitat loss and predators. Poachers are an added pressure to gecko populations.
The theft of a lone gecko may not have rung alarm bells for authorities, but the discovery on August 11 of a duct-taped shut lunchbox with 58 native lizards jammed inside should. Of the geckos and skinks inside, only four were alive.