As you know, Quadrant2Design are the only British sponsors of the Kākāpō Recovery Programme. Alan spent many years living in New Zealand so these funny looking parrots will always have a spot in his heart.
Not long ago, there was only 150 Kākāpō’s left in the world. A huge recovery programme (and a couple of private islands) later, we’re pleased to announce that a record 71 chicks survived through to juvenile age. Currently, the Kākāpō population is at a record 213 birds.
What you need to know about the Kākāpō
The Kākāpō is an endangered parrot species native to New Zealand. They have a distinctive, owl-like face, which we all find adorable. They’re excellent climbers, which is lucky because they can’t fly. But they’re also extremely friendly; both the Māori and early European settlers kept Kākāpō’s as pets.
Unfortunately, Kākāpō’s are also lazy and clumsy. Two traits that have contributed to their endangered status. They aren’t the ‘fight or flight’ type; when threatened they just freeze. When the Māori and European settlers arrived, they cleared large areas of the Kākāpō’s habitat and introduces new predators to the area.
The clumsy parrots were left defenceless. In the 1980s, the Kākāpō Recovery Plan was implemented as a last resort to save the species.
It wasn’t plain sailing from there. Rats inhabited the islands and were found to be a major predator of newly hatched Kākāpō’s. Many chicks didn’t survive passed adulthood. Although 12 chicks had been born by 1995, only 3 had survived.
This wasn’t the result that this species needed. The Kākāpō Recovery Programme received additional funding in 1996. They increased the workforce, adding a specialist scientific and technical advisory committee.
Finally, the Kākāpō Recovery Programme started seeing the results that they needed. All predators were removed from the island habitats. The staff began giving the parrots specially formulated food to keep them healthy enough to breed and raise chicks. They also started hand-rearing chicks where mothers had too many for them to care for.
Everything was going well for the Kākāpō Recovery Programme. As the species grew in population, the New Zealand Wildlife Service thought they were out of the mud. Unfortunately, a spout of aspergillosis swept across the islands infecting many birds.
Aspergillosis can be fatal for birds and is caused by a type of fungus. Every Kākāpō had to be caught and screened to see if they were affected. Infected birds were flown to the mainland for veterinary treatment. In total, nine birds died from the outbreak but in early February 2020, the final two Kākāpō’s receiving treatment returned to their islands.
Written by Natalka Antoniuk