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Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction - Science/Technology - Nairaland

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Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by Macsjebs: 8:14am On Jan 04, 2020
A monumental effort is underway to save one of New Zealand's best loved birds from extinction.

Large, plump and nocturnal, the kakapo is the only parrot in the world that lives on the ground and cannot fly. There are only 211 in existence, confined to four small islands off the New Zealand coast.

What the kakapo lacks in numbers, it makes up for in personality, says radio producer and presenter Alison Ballance. Her podcast, Kākāpō Files, which documents the fight to save the bird, has attracted listeners from around the world.

"Gorgeous, hilarious and amazing," the kakapo has a "serious, but slightly goofy" character, she says. "They've got this ancient wisdom thing going on as well. You get the feeling this is a species that has been around for a very long time and is slightly marooned in the modern world."

Andrew Digby, kakapo science adviser to the New Zealand government, is on a mission to save the beleaguered bird. 2019 has been the most successful breeding season on record. "Between January and April, 86 chicks were born, of which 70 are still alive," says Digby.

But it has also been a year of tragedy. Nine birds have died of a respiratory infection called aspergillosis, which is caused by an airborne fungus.

It's the latest in a series of challenges the kakapo has faced since its home was first invaded by humans, about 700 years ago.

A paradise for predators

Before Polynesian settlers arrived in New Zealand around the 13th century, its forests squawked, chirped and tweeted with bird life. The only mammals were a couple of species of bat. Kakapos were abundant throughout the country and bumbled around in relative safety -- the only significant threat came from birds of prey circling in the sky above.

That all changed when the first boatloads of people disembarked, along with hunting dogs and stowaway rats. When kakapos sense danger they freeze on the spot. This strategy can fool an airborne eagle but doesn't deter ground-level hunters.

The early settlers "ate the kakapo, used their feathers to weave cloaks and carved their bones into fish hooks," says Tane Davis who represents the Ngāi Tahu-- the main "iwi," or Māori tribe, of New Zealand's South Island -- in kakapo conservation. He says Māori people still maintain a strong spiritual connection to the kakapo, whose name means "parrot of the night" in their language.

When Europeans arrived in the 18th century, "things really started to fall apart," says Davis. The colonists brought with them a menagerie of new predators including two more species of rat, mice, cats, stoats, weasels and ferrets from Europe, and possums from Australia.
New Zealand was "a paradise for those pests," says Davis. "All our native species became threatened."

Kakapo numbers plummeted. By 1995, there were only 51 birds left, says Digby. The current mission to save them was launched the same year.

Saving the kakapo

All surviving kakapo now live on four islands that have been cleared of predators: Whenua Hou, Anchor, Chalky and Hauturu.

Forty percent of kakapo eggs are infertile -- most likely as a consequence of inbreeding -- so Digby and his team have turned to technology to boost success rates.

In some cases, artificial insemination is used to pair specific birds thought to be good genetic matches. This year, the team added a drone to the kit list to speed up the transfer of sperm between teams working with birds in different locations.

Once the females have produced a clutch of eggs, most eggs are removed and placed in incubators. "We tend to be more successful at raising kakapo eggs than kakapo," says Digby. "We break less of them." After hatching, each mother is given only one chick and the rest are hand-reared -- to ensure they all receive enough food.

The scientists also use genetic information from the birds to investigate the infertility problem and match breeding pairs to maximize the chances of healthy chicks.

Each bird is microchipped and equipped with a smart radio transmitter, worn like a backpack, that tracks its location, monitors activity, identifies mates and alerts the conservation team if the bird stops moving.

The transmitters also control how much food the birds receive at feeding stations.
It's essential to control the birds' diet, says Digby.

Left to their own devices, kakapo only breed when New Zealand's rimu trees burst into fruit -- about once every two to four years. "We give them supplementary food during the breeding season to trick them into behaving as if there's lots of fruit -- so they will breed more often," says Digby.

Males receive as much food as they want, but females are kept at a sweet spot of around 3.3lbs (1.5 kg). Too skinny and they are unlikely to produce eggs; too chubby and they will have mostly male chicks -- an evolutionary adaptation that benefited the species when the birds were plentiful but is not the best strategy to increase numbers quickly.

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/12/26/world/kakapo-conservation-scn-c2e-intl-hnk/index.html

6 Likes 3 Shares

Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by Macsjebs: 8:17am On Jan 04, 2020
Wonders of Science.. shocked.
Like it or not Science is a Blessing to this World, the Advantages far outweigh it's Disadvantages....

162 Likes 9 Shares

Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by Okoroawusa: 9:11am On Jan 04, 2020
Wow!... good work guys

1 Like 2 Shares

Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by FactBoyz: 2:00pm On Jan 04, 2020
grin
Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by TheSourcerer: 2:00pm On Jan 04, 2020
Must they be so ugly because they walk on land?

17 Likes

Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by Richdad50(m): 2:01pm On Jan 04, 2020
shocked
Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by iretemide(f): 2:01pm On Jan 04, 2020
q
Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by Houseofglam7(f): 2:02pm On Jan 04, 2020
Awwwwww cry
Cute birdie
Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by solpat(m): 2:02pm On Jan 04, 2020
Almost all the wild life are going into extinction. They should save these parrots please embarassed

4 Likes

Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by Arkmanbuddy(m): 2:02pm On Jan 04, 2020
Good luck to them on that.
Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by nnadychuks(m): 2:02pm On Jan 04, 2020
It looks really expensive.
Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by Elove1: 2:02pm On Jan 04, 2020
Nonsense!!! I de here de hustle and una de save useless parrot wey no sabi do anything.
All is vanity upon vanity, imagine using this fund to help some poor people
And mind you am the last of my kind

26 Likes 2 Shares

Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by Roon9(m): 2:02pm On Jan 04, 2020
Whites shar



Call for our 250,000mAH lithium-ion solar powerbank that could power your TV, laptop, and up to 4 lighting points for up to 10 hours daily
Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by sammysmiles(m): 2:02pm On Jan 04, 2020
None of my business...

2 Likes 1 Share

Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by Amba555(f): 2:02pm On Jan 04, 2020
Looks like an owl jare
Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by TheSourcerer: 2:03pm On Jan 04, 2020
Let's Give Thor a chance in our lives and not get doomed to Ragnarok for eternity
Let Thor touch you






This is how you Jesus folks sounds about torturing us in hell for eternity for not believing in Jesus.
touch me Ko
cum into me ni

3 Likes

Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by Emu4life: 2:03pm On Jan 04, 2020
May you be saved dear parrot. It looks scary though.

1 Like

Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by cutiedave(m): 2:04pm On Jan 04, 2020
Macsjebs:
Wonders of Science.. shocked.
Like it or not Science is a Blessing to this World, the Advantages far outweigh it's Disadvantages....

U kw nothing... those birds wont have been in danger of extinction if not for science and technology in the first place

Science and technology gives with one hand...and take from nature with both hands

15 Likes 3 Shares

Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by Psalmy2cute(m): 2:04pm On Jan 04, 2020
Roon9:
Whites shar
Black man dont give a Bleep.. they're better off eaten
Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by jesusbaby28: 2:04pm On Jan 04, 2020
I love science
I love Nature
I love creatures

3 Likes 1 Share

Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by MasterRahl(m): 2:04pm On Jan 04, 2020
angry
Nairalanders won't comment in topics like these
Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by uncleck: 2:04pm On Jan 04, 2020
All these efforts to save parrot. Yet somewhere in the same planet, someone managed to soak garri since morning and is not even sure where the next water he's going to drink will come from. Inside this life ehn

3 Likes 1 Share

Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by chrisifeanyi: 2:04pm On Jan 04, 2020
For here we for don roast them eat

1 Like 1 Share

Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by bikerboy1(m): 2:04pm On Jan 04, 2020
God please help the scientists.
We can't afford to lose the kakapo species cry
Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by Odunolumide(m): 2:04pm On Jan 04, 2020
somebody save me (in Smallvilles tone)
Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by Nobody: 2:04pm On Jan 04, 2020
Extinction is a natural process . Stupid scientist should stop wasting funds . Dinosaurs , mammoth , sabre tooth tiger etc have gone extinct. Life no end

3 Likes

Re: Kakapo, The New Zealand Parrot: Scientists Struggle To Save It From Extinction by Humphrizy(m): 2:05pm On Jan 04, 2020
Wildlife conservation is very important

1 Like

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