Kakapo Star in Rat Island
New Zealand’s Kakapo are the focus of a new book telling the stories of the world’s best cases of predator eradication. Written by William Stolzenburg, Rat Island tells the stories of two heroic rescues of two species of bird – the Kakapo and the Aleutian Island’s Auklet. While the book retells the stories of remarkable conservation feats, it is the Kakapo’s “long walk home” which is not only the focus of the book but remains with the reader beyond the final page. One of the world’s most endangered birds, the Kakapo is described by Stolzenburgh as a clumsy parrot who evolved to ‘mosey’ around the forest rather than fly due to a lack of predators. With the introduction of ferrets, weasels and stoats in the late 188s, the numbers of New Zealand’s third most populous bird dwindled to near extinction. Stolzenburgh commends the conservationists that worked to bring the species back from the brink of extinction – including the late Don Merton – though points out that the fight is far from over yet.