There is a serious crisis going on at the moment for the remaining Kākāpō of the world.
Aspergillosis has taken the lives of 7 of these beautiful birds already over the last few months, and many more are at risk.
Aspergillosis is an infection caused by a fungus called Aspergillus. When symptoms are visible the birds may cough up blood, have a fever, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. It is caused by collections of fungus fibres, blood clots, and white blood cells forming in the lungs or sinuses.
Scans are being done to spot early signs and treat those infected right away.
However, this is not easily done as the Kākāpō must be flown to mainland New Zealand first for CT scans. If the news is bad they are placed into intensive care. It may take months before they are given the all clear and then finally released back to Whenua hou (Codfish Island).
An added complication is that Aspergillosis may be present yet symptoms not immediately clear.
Dr Andrew Digby and Alison Ballance have both been tweeting regular updates, and so far we know that:
– Anchor Island is clear of disease,
– Seventeen birds are currently undergoing treatment,
– Scans and checks are continuing to give the all-clear to others suspected to have the disease.
Kākāpō Recovery Programme are in urgent need of support at this crucial time. The number of Kākāpō is already so low, with just 142 adults and 72 chicks remaining.
You can donate to the Aspergillosis fund directly on Kākāpō Recovery website – https://www.doc.govt.nz/kakapo-donate
“Donations will be used for research to better understand the disease,” says Deidre Vercoe – manager of the Department of Conservation’s Kākāpō Recovery team.
2019 started very positively as a result of many new chicks hatching at the start of the year, so the Kākāpō were very much on the increase!
With continued funds, there is still a chance to stop this from developing further and turn things around for good.