Kakapo '09 season ends on record high
09 Apr 2009
The population of the world’s rarest parrot - the New Zealand kakapo - has reached a record high of 125 with the 2009 breeding season being hailed as the most successful since the recovery programme began.
All eggs have now hatched and the season’s tally of 34 chicks is the highest since the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) launched a programme to save the rare birds.
DOC’s communications officer Nyia Strachan says the chicks are all doing well and responding to feeding programmes. Some of the chicks remain with their mothers but 21 of the 34 chicks are having to be hand-reared.
At the end of June the kakapo chicks will be returned to Whenua Hou (Codfish Island) where they hatched, and will be held in secure pens for six weeks before being released into the wild.
The bumper season of chicks takes the kakapo population to more than double it was when the recovery programme began a decade ago. Kakapo only mate when there is ample fruit available and DOC says the conditions this season have been perfect.
Bumper breeding season
NZ Minister of Conservation Tim Groser said the bumper breeding season was a "fantastic reward" for all the DOC staff and many volunteers who had worked so hard to build up kakapo numbers over the years.
More than 30 DOC workers and volunteers have helped with the breeding programme on Codfish Island this season.
Kakapo are nocturnal so each night, while the mother kakapo are out and about looking for food, ‘nest-minders’ watched over the nests. Eggs were weighed and checked daily for development.
DOC's kakapo recovery work is a partnership involving the Royal New Zealand Forest & Bird Society, and New Zealand Aluminium Smelters.
First signed over 20 years ago, the agreement is one of the department’s longest running conservation partnerships, and has already injected over NZ$3 million towards breeding programmes and predator-proof sanctuaries for the flightless parrot.
"This milestone shows what can be achieved for conservation when community organisations, private businesses and the public sector work together," Mr Groser said.
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