Such wonderful news.
The quirky and flightless Kākāpō bird were once widespread across the whole of New Zealand, but now they have almost been hunted to the point of being wiped out. [Featured Image: Kathrin Marks, Flickr].
But now, due to a large and specialised conservation effort, the Kākāpō are slowly growing in numbers.
Kākāpō happen to be the heaviest species of parrot in the world, with many growing up to weigh four kilograms. They are also the only flightless species of parrot in existence. Kākāpō are adept at climbing trees, and their nocturnal hunting gained them the name “night parrot” in Māori.
Andrew Digby, from the Department of Conservation, said: “Kākāpō don’t come across like birds – they’re more like mammals, maybe like badgers.
“Our team have been working with the same individual birds for over 40 years, which is really special.
“Kākāpō have definite personalities which you get to see when you work with them regularly. We know which ones we’ll have to chase because they often run, and which ones are noisy and may shout at you a lot. Some are really friendly and will approach you.”
Populations of Kākāpō began declining in the 14th century, when they began being heavily hunted for food and feathers for clothing.
In 1995, there were only 51 known Kākāpōs left in New Zealand. So, the Kākāpō Recovery programme stepped in. The parrots were collected and placed on five different islands without predators. And now, with helpful intervention from conservationists, 69 chicks have successfully hatched. Without this help upon birth, it is likely they would not have survived.
Now, there are 208 known Kākāpōs, which is a record-breaking number since conservation began.
The New Zealand government has launched a programme to clear the mainland of invasive species so the parrots, and many other species, can return to their original home by 2050. This aim is considered ambitious, but it is hoped that the love and dedication of scientists and conservationists can make this possible in time.