Endangered, flightless bird returns to NZ mainland

The iconic and famously cheeky Kākāpō, a flightless bird indigenous to New Zealand, is returning to the nation’s largest main island thanks to conservation efforts by conservation groups, indigenous tribes, and central government.

Kākāpō are beloved by locals, with Pete McKenzie writing for NatGeo praising their “muppet-like faces and frequent silliness (in 2009, a kākāpō named Sirocco made global headlines for attempting to mate with a human zoologist in a BBC documentary).”

As a slow moving and flightless bird their numbers dropped over the past 100 years to critical levels due to imported predators.

They are under the protection of the Department of Conservation, who have received support and collaboration from local iwi such as Ngāi Tahu, the Māori tribe who call New Zealand’s South Island home.

That collaboration has produced what NatGeo call a miracle:

“The kākāpō population has quadrupled in number. Their story highlights the successes of New Zealand’s bird conservation program, demonstrating how to marry Western and Indigenous conservation approaches, revive endangered species, and reintroduce them to their native land.”

The collaboration has been a remarkable success: kākāpō have filled their islands to capacity with 247 across three island sanctuaries and conservationist are now looking for new homes for the beloved birds.

This collaborative approach, and a government commitment to remove all predatory animals from its eco-system by 2050, has revived a once seriously threated community and a symbol of national pride.

Similar predator control efforts have other endangered birds into the wild: late last year it released iconic kiwi into the hills above the country’s capital.

The kākāpō are still too vulnerable to be released into the wild, but the establishment of immense fenced sanctuaries has allowed them to return to the mainland for the first time in decades.

Original article by Pete McKenzie, National Geographic, October 4, 2023
Image Source: Wikipedia

Tags: Department of Conservation  Kakapo  National Geographic  

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