Kakapo have inhabited the South Pacific nation of New Zealand for thousands of years but, with the arrival of humans and introduced predators, their once abundant numbers rapidly declined.
By the 1970s only 18 kakapo were known to exist, all in remote Fiordland and all males. The species seemed doomed to extinction.
But in 1977, a population of male and female kakapo was discovered on Stewart Island, giving new hope for the survival of this special bird. Since then, a small team of dedicated staff from the Department of Conservation has worked tirelessly to protect, manage and grow the kakapo population in the wild.
They have been supported by volunteers from throughout New Zealand and, increasingly overseas, who provided extra support – by nest-minding and supplementary feeding – during the precious, but infrequent, breeding seasons.
Today, with fewer than 130 birds, kakapo breeding populations are on two predator-free island sanctuaries: Codfish Island (Whenua Hou), off Stewart Island and Anchor Island, in southwest Fiordland. Staff work year round ensuring the birds are safe, healthy and well fed.
The aim of Kakapo Recovery is to establish at least two managed populations of kakapo and another self-sustaining population, each with at least 50 breeding-age females, in protected habitats.
For more information go to: www.kakaporecovery.org.nz
The Kakapo is the only nocturnal parrot
They are the heaviest parrots in the world
They are the only flightless parrots in the world
Photos Courtesy of: Department of Conservation, New Zealand(1), Darren Scott(3), Gavin Damage(2), from left to right
Up to 60 cm long
Up to 3.8 kg
May be the oldest species of parrot
Plants, seeds, fruits, pollens, and tree sap
Going to lekking sites (locations where males perform vocal and visual displays to woo females) and having the females make their top pick of a mate
About 130 exist in the world
Introduction of invasive species such as cats, rats, and stoats
Kakapo Recovery Plan, which currently has moved some of the remaining survivors to nearby predator-free islands