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Great start for breeding of endangered bird

29 February 2008 Media Release

Great start for breeding of NZ’s most endangered bird

The breeding season of New Zealand’s most endangered bird, the kakapo, is off to a great start with at least two fertile eggs laid on Codfish Island and two female birds, previously thought to be too young, also laying eggs.

Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick says these are the first eggs laid by kakapo in three years, and it is hugely exciting that two six-year-old kakapo have laid eggs, because we previously thought the minimum breeding age was nine years.

“This discovery is a great surprise for the Department of Conservation’s (DOC) Kakapo Recovery Team, and although the eggs may not be fertile, it’s big news that these birds could lay eggs at all.

“The Labour-led government is committed to the recovery of our endangered native species, and kakapo are a top priority with only 86 birds remaining in two protected offshore islands.”

The recovery team has also confirmed that two kakapo eggs laid elsewhere on Whenua Hou or Codfish Island are fertile. Kakapo are extremely slow breeders and these are the first eggs laid since 2005.

Steve Chadwick says this could be the start of a great breeding season for this species, and we will be doing all we can to improve their survival rate.

“In the last breeding season in 2005, the fertility rate was just 58 per cent so the recovery team will be making every effort to successfully hatch the current batch of eggs.”

To give these chicks the best chance of survival, volunteers will be keeping a nightly vigil at their nests, making sure the female incubates the eggs properly and even using heat pads to make sure they don’t go cold.

“This is an internationally significant recovery programme, and the Labour-led government is proud of the close collaboration between volunteers and DOC staff in the recovery of New Zealand’s most endangered bird.”

The Kakapo Recovery Programme is a partnership between the Department of Conservation, the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society and Rio Tinto Alcan Ltd (formerly Comalco New Zealand Ltd).

ENDS

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