Good News for Critically Endangered Parrot

Monday, February 23 2009 @ 08:17 PM UTC

Contributed by: Paul Brennan

The miraculous discovery of a male kakapo (Strigops habroptila), over twenty years after it was last seen has boosted the known world population of this Critically Endangered parrot to 91.

BirdLife International reports that the flightless, nocturnal bird was recently rediscovered ‘booming’ (the male’s unique, resonant mating call) where no kakapos had been detected before.

The bird had not been seen since 1987, when it was one of four males released onto a conservation sanctuary near Stewart Island, New Zealand. As well as giving the potential for introducing extra genetic material into the kakapo breeding programme, the find has raised hopes of discovering more kakapos on this and other islands.

Once roaming across the whole of New Zealand, the kakapo population has been decimated due to hunting and predation by introduced mammals such as cats, dogs, stoats and rats, and fell to a low of just 51 individuals in 1995. This led to the drastic measure of moving all remaining kakapos to predator-free islands in order to avert their imminent extermination, and the population has since been the subject of intensive conservation efforts as part of a last-ditch attempt to bring the species back from the brink of extinction.

Classified as Critically Endangered, and considered one of the world’s rarest parrots, the encouraging news of the rediscovery of this male comes with good news about the species’ breeding progress, with the egg tally for this year’s breeding season currently standing at 37. With the continued efforts of those devoted to saving this rare, endemic bird, there is hope that the species is on its first tentative steps towards recovery.

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