Richard Henry Lives On
Legendary kakapo, Richard Henry, whose genetic material helped recover the species of rare flightless parrot, has died at the ripe old age of 80. Researchers believed the kakapo had been nearly wiped out and that extinction was inevitable — that is, until they ran across Richard on an exploratory expedition to Fiordland in 1975. When a small group of other birds were discovered on another island, Richard Henry became instrumental in producing offspring by offering some diversity to the dwindling population. Over the next few decades later, with the help of Richard Henry, the kakapo species has seen an encouraging increase. The kakapo population currently stands at 122 birds. And, in the tradition of Richard Henry, each of the birds has a name, too. The Department of Conservation’s Kakapo Program Scientist Ron Moorhouse says Richard Henry’s death marks the end of an era. “Richard Henry was a living link to the early days of kakapo recovery, and perhaps even to a time before stoats when kakapo could boom unmolested in Fiordland,” Dr Moorhouse said.