Kakapo Conservation Supported Until 2020 By Renewed Partnership

Rio Tinto Alcan NZ, the New Zealand Department of Conservation and Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society have signed up to renew a partnership program that will support kakapo conservation until 2020. The goal of the group is to have the kakapos downlisted from “critically endangered” to “endangered” by 2020. The partnership is committed to the continued support of the Kakapo Recovery Programme, which has helped restore numbers by establishing predator-free havens where kakapo can breed on off-shore islands, supplementary feeding to boost breeding success, hand-rearing chicks, conducting research and monitoring, and raising public awareness.

Now you might be asking, what is this kakapo, and why should I care?

The kakapo is a fat, flightless night parrot from New Zealand. It’s the heaviest parrot in the world, and probably one of the longest-lived birds in the world, with its average life expectancy of 90 years. There were hundreds of thousands of kakapos before humans lived in New Zealand, then thousands, then hundreds, and by the 1980s, only forty were left. Today the population is at 90 kakapos.

The kakapo is one of the featured critters in what is undoubtedly my favorite book, Last Chance To See by Douglas Adams. Adams went on a series of expeditions in the 1980s with zoologist/writer/wildlife photographer/broadcaster Mark Carwardine to see some of the world’s most endangered species.

Adams does a wonderful job of explaining the complications of kakapo mating:
The ways in which the kakapo goes about mating are wonderfully bizarre, extraordinarily long drawn out, and almost totally ineffective.

[After the male kakapo makes a track and bowl system, he then puffs put his chest and starts to make what he thinks are “sexy grunting noises”]
The booming noise is deep, very deep, just on the threshold of what you can actually hear and what you can feel. This means that it carries for very great distances, but that you can’t tell where it’s coming from. If you’re familiar with certain types of stereo setups, you’ll know that you can get an additional speaker called a subwoofer which carries only the bass frequencies and which you can, in theory, stick anywhere in the room, even behind the sofa. The principle is the same: you can’t tell where the bass sound is coming from.

The female kakapo can’t tell where the booming is coming from either, which is something of a shortcoming in a mating call. “Come and get me!” “Where are you?” “Come and get me!” “Where the hell are you?” “Come and get me!” “Look, do you want me to come or not?” “Come and get me!” “Oh for heaven’s sake.” “Come and get me!” “Go and stuff yourself” is roughly how it would go in human terms.

Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine continue the journey 20 years later with the Last Chance to See series on BBC. I love BBC!

And now….the world’s cutest kakapo video: (Can be viewed at Oh, For The Love of Science!)

The material in this press release comes from the originating research organization. Content may be edited for style and length. Want more? Sign up for our daily email.

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