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Partnership will help kakapo keep on booming

4 December 2008 - Wellington

Press release for immediate use

Partnership will help kakapo keep on booming

Rio Tinto Alcan NZ, the Department of Conservation and Forest & Bird have signed up to a renewed partnership programme to support efforts to help the kakapo.

The partnership programme supports the work of the National Kakapo Team in protecting the critically endangered kakapo, of which just 90 birds remain.  It is hoped that the group’s work can improve the status of the kakapo from critical to endangered by 2020.

Forest & Bird General Manager Mike Britton says the kakapo is much-loved by New Zealanders – so much so that it won the Bird of the Year poll held by Forest & Bird this year in a landslide victory over its nearest rival, the takahe.

“The kakapo is the world’s heaviest, and probably its longest-lived parrot – it truly is an exceptional bird, and one for which we share a responsibility as New Zealanders to protect.  Today’s signing means the partners are committed to continue support for the vital work of the Kakapo Recovery Programme in bringing this unique species back from the brink of extinction.”

In the 1990s, only 51 kakapo were left, but recovery efforts have since boosted their numbers to 90. As the kakapo is flightless it is largely defenceless against attack by introduced predators, and it is slow to reproduce, breeding only once every 2-4 years, so it cannot quickly recover its numbers.

The  Kakapo Recovery Programme has helped restore numbers by establishing predator-free havens where kakapo can breed on off-shore islands, supplementary feeding to boost breeding success, hand-rearing chicks, conducting research and monitoring, and raising public awareness.

Mike Britton says the partnership demonstrates how the private, voluntary and government sectors can work together effectively to help protect New Zealand’s unique native species.



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