How difficult is it for the kakapo ? After nearly extinction due to cat bites

New Zealand is divided into the South Island, the North Island and many outlying islands. It used to be a well-known livestock-raising country. In addition to a large number of sheep, cattle and deer, there are also many unique wild creatures. From ancient times to the present, New Zealand has been a utopia for many birds, including the adorable kakapo.

As early as 27 years ago, the kakapo population had dropped to 50. Seeing that this ancient bird was on the verge of extinction, scientists turned the tide and implemented the most intensive bird protection operation in history, starting with the first 26 chicks hatched. As of last year, the kakapo population reached about 210.

But realistically speaking, if there hadn’t been active human intervention, the kakapo might have become extinct long ago. Even if humans took good care of them, they would still find it difficult to escape the fate of extinction. It’s only with the protection of scientists that the kakapo can have a better chance of survival.

The kakapo’s population has quadrupled from being on the verge of extinction to recovering, a transformation that is the result of scientists’ careful care. The kakapo is the largest parrot in the world, with larger adult individuals growing up to 8 kilograms. It is a nocturnal bird.



The wings of the kakapo have lost their function. Compared to flying, they are more accustomed to climbing trees and walking. From a distance, they look very much like a fat old man walking with his hands behind his back. Although they look like rough men, they are filled with the sweet scent of fruit.

Like other large parrots, the kakapo has a long lifespan, which can reach fifty or sixty years.

When the breeding season comes, male kakapos will gather together and begin to show off their dancing skills, hoping to win the favor of females. Once mating is successful, the male birds will quickly withdraw, and the female birds will take on the responsibility of raising the young birds alone.

File Photo
File Photo

The kakapo’s behavior is not common among birds. Most birds, including penguins, geese, and eagles, will take care of their chicks together. It is precisely because of this peculiar breeding method that the kakapo has paid a heavy price.

More than a thousand years ago, there were millions of kakapos living in New Zealand. Except for a few carnivorous birds on the island, kakapos had no natural enemies in the wild. Although they could hide under lush plants with their green feathers to avoid the intrusion of carnivorous birds, they could not escape the sharp eyes of the Maori people.

Kakapo Bird
Kakapo Bird

Beautiful feathers

Their beautiful feathers and sweet and sticky meat made them the first choice for snacks by Maori hunters. Even more unfortunately, the dogs, rats, cats, mustelids and other animals that came with the colonists almost brought disaster to the kakapo. These animals could find the kakapo’s nests based on their outstanding sense of smell and kill both adult and chicks.

In the 1970s, scientists believed that the kakapo was functionally extinct, but biologist Professor Morton still discovered a kakapo on the outskirts of the southern New Zealand city of Fiordland. After searching, he found 17 more kakapo in the area, but after examination, they were all old male birds.

Beautiful Bird
Beautiful Bird

In 1977, a research team led by Professor Morton discovered the kakapo’s last paradise in the southern part of Stewart Island. More than 200 kakapo lived there without being disturbed. Some kakapo were even feeding their chicks. Scientists believed that the kakapo could finally get rid of its predicament.

But no one expected that the invading wild cats would prey on more than 100 kakapos at an alarming rate, and the scientists’ renewed hope was once again ruthlessly extinguished.

Scientists were outraged, and from the early 1980s to the late 1990s, the longest and most extensive bird conservation program in history was launched.

Scientists searched

The Scientists searched all over New Zealand and moved the surviving kakapos to nearby outlying islands. However, they failed to clear out the rats on the islands and lost most of the kakapos. By 1995, there were only 50 kakapos left in the world.

In order to protect the safety of the kakapo, it is necessary to eliminate alien invasive animals. By screening and killing invasive species, scientists finally selected Maude Island and Cod Island as protection islands for the kakapo. On the island, once the kakapo lays eggs and hatches chicks, no one is allowed to disturb them.

Invasive species such as rats and wild cats on the island have been completely eliminated, and scientists are watching over the young birds in the nests all day to ensure their safe growth. Kakapo parrots in the wild only breed once every few years, and the time when the chicks are hatched is the year when the local plants have a good harvest.

Because they are not good at flying, kakapos can generally only eat berries and grass stems, which are barely enough to maintain their own energy needs. Scientists think whether it is possible to supplement the nutrition of kakapos so that they can reproduce multiple times?

People have found that kakapos have a special liking for walnuts and almonds, but even after feeding them large quantities, kakapos still have no interest in reproducing.

Finally, scientists believe that the kakapo seems to be waiting for some special signal to reproduce. The kakapo on Cod Island will wait until the New Zealand red pine fruit is harvested before they reproduce. Scientists have begun to fertilize and cultivate the red pine to ensure that it bears abundant fruit.

Kakapo Breed

The kakapos finally started to breed. The staff were worried that they were lacking nutrition and would not be able to feed their chicks, so they provided them with more food to keep them in the best physical condition at all times.

But a new problem arose. All kakapos suffered from obesity. Scientists found that all chicks hatched from obese kakapos were male. After encouraging them to exercise and feeding them scientifically, the situation improved to a certain extent.

The female kakapo lays only one egg at a time, which takes a month to hatch a chick. The chick will gradually become fully fledged after 70 days. During this period, the chick can grow from a few dozen grams to about four pounds.

Scientists later discovered that if the female bird’s eggs were taken away early in the breeding season and artificially incubated, the female bird would mate and lay eggs again.

Currently, under the protection of scientists, the kakapo population is maintained at around 210, and people are planning to create kakapo utopias on more outlying islands. No one wants such a cute animal to become extinct too early.

Sumatran Tiger
Sumatran Tiger, The king of zoo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *