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Kakapo Launches Into Cyberspace

www.kakaporecovery.org.nz

One of New Zealand's most threatened bird species, the kakapo, entered the computer age today with the launch of a new Kakapo Recovery Programme website by Prime Minister Helen Clark.

The new website has been jointly developed by Comalco New Zealand, Forest and Bird, and the Department of Conservation (DOC) to increase understanding of New Zealand's distinctive green 'parrot of the night'.

The kakapo is now found on just four islands in New Zealand, and has a remaining population of only 62 birds. It is the subject of an intensive Kakapo Recovery Programme, run by DOC with financial support from Comalco, since 1991, which has seen the population begin its first tentative steps towards recovery over recent years.

The website features history and information about the kakapo, and details on the innovative management activities being undertaken by DOC staff to save the bird. It will also feature regular updates on developments in the kakapo world.

Helen Clark says that the website will help raise awareness and understanding of the desperate plight of the kakapo. "With only 62 birds surviving in the world, its future is still resting on a knife-edge."

"The kakapo's predicament dramatically illustrates the risks facing so many of New Zealand's bird species."

The Executive Director of Comalco New Zealand, Kerry McDonald, said the website was an exciting development. "One of the features of the Kakapo Recovery Programme has been the willingness to embrace new technology to help build a future for the species. This website is a further step in that process, and will hopefully prove popular with adults and children alike."

Director-General of the Department of Conservation, Hugh Logan, said there continues to be wide interest in the kakapo. "Every week, DOC staff receive inquiries about kakapo from schools, community groups and individuals around the world."

"The website is an ideal vehicle to meet public interest in the species, and will help make our day-to-day conservation work visible to thousands of people."

General Manager of Forest and Bird, Lyn Bates, said the website launch shows that New Zealand organisations and businesses can work together and make a difference to conservation.

"Comalco's support for kakapo conservation is one of the most important corporate environmental sponsorships in New Zealand and, combined with DOC's skilled management, means the kakapo is in good hands. For us, it's a great thrill to be involved."

Just prior to the website launch, New Zealand Post is to release a stamp issue featuring seven threatened birds, including the kakapo.

New Zealand Post's Design Manager, Linda Morgan, said that the Threatened Birds stamp issue recognises the on-going work of keeping New Zealand's native birds safe from extinction. Other New Zealand birds featured include the Okarito brown kiwi, the orange-fronted parakeet, North Island weka, black stilt and the Stewart Island fernbird.

For more information, please contact Nicola Patrick at 04-4713131 or 025-571503.


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