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Rare kakapo flies south

One of the world’s rarest parrots – the flightless kakapo - is flying to a new island home this week.

Sinbad, a two-year-old kakapo, is being transferred from Maud Island (Te Hoiere) in the Marlborough Sounds to Codfish Island/Whenua Hou near Stewart Island. Sinbad is one of only 62 known kakapo left in New Zealand and his transfer between islands will assist the survival of the species.

“Moving Sinbad will benefit the kakapo recovery programme in several ways,” said Paul Jansen, the Department of Conservation’s National Kakapo Team leader.

“Kakapo don’t breed until they are eight years old so by moving him now we are giving him time to adjust to his new environment before he breeds. When he does breed, it will enable us to mix his genes with those of the birds on Whenua Hou.”

Sinbad’s father, Richard Henry, came from the last known mainland population of kakapo in Fiordland. Breeding by Sinbad will introduce the Fiordland population’s genes into the Whenua Hou genetic pool which derives from the Stewart Island population.

“The kakapo population is more dense on Maud Island than Whenua Hou, which is a larger island, so moving Sinbad will also provide more habitat space for kakapo on Maud,” said Mr Jansen.

The move is also being made out of concern for Sinbad’s safety. Being hand-reared, Sinbad is unafraid of people and likes to spend time around the houses and buildings on Maud Island.

“There is a danger he could be injured amongst the equipment and other moving objects around the buildings and we have too few kakapo to risk losing even one.”

Sinbad is due to be flown off Maud Island by helicopter around 8am tomorrow (Friday 26 May). He will then be taken on scheduled airline flights to Invercargill where he will be transferred to another helicopter to fly to his new home on Whenua Hou. He will be farewelled from Maud Island by Te Tau Ihu iwi representatives who will travel south with him and his DOC minder. At Invercargill, Ngai Tahu representatives will welcome the party and join it for the journey to Whenua Hou. The party is scheduled to land on Whenua Hou about 2pm

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