Progress of the Leiopelma pakeka program
at Zealandia - Karori Sanctuary


Leiopelma pakeka

Common Name(s)

Maud Island Frog

Region where program is based


Country where program is based

New Zealand

The authority that recommended this species for an ex situ program

NZ Department of Conservation

Has a genetic analysis been performed on wild populations to define the target taxon, i.e., verify that single, viable Evolutionarily Significant Units (ESU's) that are managed as separate populations, are not confounded by cryptic species or polymorphisms?


Name of the institution managing the ex situ population

Zealandia - Karori Sanctuary

Year the program started


Is at least some portion of the captive population maintained in range country?


Are sufficient resources available to manage the ex situ population?


Are adequate numbers of skilled staff available with the appropriate ex situ amphibian experience?


Is sufficient space available for the required population size?


Additional Support required

Has a Taxon Management Coordinator for the ex situ population been appointed?


Taxon Management Coordinator

Neil Anderson of Zealandia - Karori Sanctuary

Has a Taxon Management Group or Recovery Team been established?


Has a Taxon Management Plan, Recovery Plan or Species Action Statement been written?


Have Husbandry Guidelines been written?

Web link to Husbandry Management Guidelines

Have any knowledge gaps in the species biology or in their interaction with potential threats been identified that could benefit from research using the ex situ population?


List of knowledge gaps

The impacts of house mice and little spotted kiwi are currently being assessed by Tanya Karst, MSc student at Victoria University of Wellington.

Have founder needs been calculated using the AArk Amphibian Population Management Guidelines ?

Have sufficient potential founders been collected? ( AArk Amphibian Population Management Guidelines recommends a minimum of 20 pairs of found animals).


Is the ex situ population managed by nationals from the range country?


What tools are used to maximize retention of genetic diversity?

Has the population produced viable offspring?


Have the first generation captive-bred animals bred successfully?


Is the ex situ population housed in permanent isolation from other populations occurring outside its range?


Is work being supported to study and mitigate threats to the species in the wild, either by the institution or by a regional wildlife agency?


Have captive-bred or captive-reared animals been released into the wild?


If releases were undertaken, have disease screening protocols or veterinary health checks been conducted prior to releases to the wild?


Is follow-up work being carried out to monitor progress of the released animals?


Is the taxon again secure in the wild, even if it might still require some ongoing in situ management? i.e. has the need for a captive assurance population been obviated such that we can call this a successfully terminated captive rescue program?



Initial species diagnosis on allozyme and morphometric data, but more recent DNA studies suggest species may be close to Leiopelma hamiltoni, or re-merged with it, though fixed genetic differences exists between taxa. Ongoing DNA studies to be completed. As house mice have just been found on the species native habitat on Maud Island, ex situ populations have gained greater importance, and this Zealandia population coexists with mice too so have particular relevance for understanding mouse-frog impacts. Department of Conservation have written guidelines and Ben Bell, advisory scientist to Zealandia, has knowledge of captive maintenance of species. 60 animals transferred in 2006, sex unknown; another 100 transferred in 2012 and released nearby – can be used to supplement genetic diversity of ex situ animals in future. We have recently released 100 frogs into the wild as part of a restoration programme as well as holding some of the original 60 in captivity as insurance and display population. They have bred every year in captivity so there will now only be a census every 5 years or so.