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Kakapo chicks return to island home

Hon Maggie Barry

Minister of Conservation
3 June 2016

Kakapo chicks return to island home

Two young kakapo will be returned to the species’ pest-free island sanctuaries on a special helicopter flight today, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says.

The chicks, Konini 2 and Wendy 2, will be flown back to Whenua Hou/Codfish Island from Invercargill, with Ms Barry and Ngāi Tahu representative Tane Davis as chaperones.

“This is a milestone not only for Konini and Wendy but for the entire recovery programme,” Ms Barry says,

Of the 36 surviving chicks, 24 have successfully been raised by mother birds in the wild, of which the oldest are starting to fledge and leave the nest.

“These two chicks were among the most vulnerable 12 young birds who may not have survived if left in the wild, and were taken to the hand-rearing facility in Invercargill for intensive care.

“Upgraded with the help of offenders on community service, the facility has been vital to ensuring there has been such a high level of chick survival this season. It’s also attracted big crowds when open to the public at weekends.”

Now three months old, the pair of chicks will spend another month in an enclosure to acclimatise to the island, before being released to find their own territory.

DNA samples are being analysed to confirm both the sex and male parentage of all the chicks. Results will help the team assess the genetic diversity of population, and also identify if artificial insemination was successful.

“Now is the time to keep the momentum up with the recovery efforts to ensure the kakapo population continues to strengthen. Any reduction in effort after this success could see the species slipping back into decline.”

ends

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