The catastrophic decline of the Kakapo population is caused by these factors:
- Easy food source for human settlers
- Weak defence against rats, cats, and other predators
- Destruction of forested islands, its natural habitat
- Death of one-fifth of remaining population by Aspergillosis fungal infection as of 2019
- Complex mating ritual
- Slow reproduction cycle
The Kākāpo or ‘Owl Parrot’ is the world’s fattest parrot and can only be found in New Zealand. Although conservation efforts are being done to save its species, its total population is currently below 150 adults.
The threat to its species survival is largely attributed to the presence of predators around its natural habitat as well as the continued destruction of its natural territory.
The Kakapos have a very complex mating ritual: they only breed once every several years, have picky diets (to boost egg production), and very particular about their mating areas (such as the Rimu Evergreen Trees). The inbreeding situation in the wild also increases the risks of infertile eggs.
Exposure to the respiratory disease Aspergillosis is also another culprit in the diminishing number of the world’s fattest, heaviest, and only flightless parrot.
Because of its nocturnal behaviour, its name means ‘night parrot’ in Maori and ‘soft-feather owl face’ in Latin translation. This New Zealand endemic bird can live between 60 and 90 years of age, making its life expectancy one of the longest among its kind.