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Kakapo; on the road to recovery

We’d like to kick off the month by raising awareness about one of the most critically endangered birds on the planet: the kakapo.

With gorgeous iridescent green plumage, the kakapo is one of the most colourful creatures in New Zealand. But with the current population sitting at just 147 birds – and only 126 of those in the wild – that puts the kakapo at the top of the world’s endangered species list. There are less kakapos than there are Sumatran tigers or black rhinos!

To combat this, New Zealand’s Department of Conservation has the set up the Kākāpō Recovery Programme, which aims to get kakapo off the endangered list and back to their former natural range.

What’s special about the kakapo?

The kakapo is a very large and unusual parrot found only in New Zealand. Plus, it’s the world’s only flightless parrot. Kakapo use their short and super soft wings for balance and support instead of flapping. And they’re also only active at night – no wonder they’re often referred to as owl parrots.

Now, here’s the deal; In the wild, kakapo feed their offspring rimu fruit and only breed every two to six years when these trees are mass fruiting, which is determined by long-term weather patterns. As such, human impact with introduced predators and global warming both have a huge impact on the survival of kakapo. Which is why they currently only successfully breed and survive with the support of humans – namely DOC and Auckland Zoo’s veterinary service.

“Kakapo are very slow reproductively,” says Wes Sechrest, chief scientist and CEO of Global Wildlife Conservation. “They live for decades, and their age of sexual maturity is quite high for birds. So, recovering them requires long-term investment of resources, technology, and people on the ground.”

How can you get involved?

Kakapo Recovery combines the efforts of scientists, rangers, volunteers and donors to protect the critically endangered kakapo.

Even though their application of a sophisticated, science-based programme has averted the kakapo’s extinction, these parrots remain critically endangered. Whether it’s making a donation, buying some merchandise, adopting a kakapo or even volunteering your time to help out, there are so many ways you can assist in protecting this beautiful parrot and increasing its numbers.

“Our ultimate goal is to return kakapo to the mainland,” says Andrew Digby, the science advisor for the New Zealand Department of Conservation’s kakapo recovery program. “We want people to hear their amazing booming in the summertime that people used to hear 150 years ago.”

Even if you can’t donate or volunteer to the cause, doing things like recycling, using less electricity, planting trees, and helping spread the kakapo story to highlight the importance of protecting species, can all help recover the kakapo.

“To once again be able to hear those booming male kakapos on the main New Zealand islands during the breeding season, we’re going to have to do a lot more of this great work to recover them,” Sechrest says.

Here at Lamai Anne, we’re serious about getting on board with the kakapo recovery efforts. So, for every Kakapo limited edition print sold, we will donate $10 to Kakapo Recovery.

April 01, 2019 — Milena Tsitovitch