The world’s fattest species of parrot has had a record-breaking breeding season in New Zealand, with scientists saying the fortunes of the critically-endangered bird are finally turning around. There are only 147 adult kākāpō alive today, although a few hundred years ago they were one of New Zealand’s most common birds, before being hunted to the brink of extinction, killed by introduced pests, and losing their forest homes to farming.
Every kākāpō in New Zealand has a smart transmitter attached to its body, and remote monitoring systems are embedded in their nests. Rangers also check chicks every night while they are growing, and there are currently seven chicks being hand-reared by DoC staff.
The chicks are being raised on two predator free islands off the coast of New Zealand, on protected sanctuaries that are pest-free, but eventually the kākāpō recovery team would like to reintroduce them to mainland New Zealand’s bush, cities and towns. The population would have to get up to “at least 500” for the scientists to think about backing off.
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