Home' Advocate Communications : Fiordland Advocate 20 January 2011 Contents LOCAL NEWS
20 January, 2011 | Page 15
Kakapo will be breeding in
Fiordland for the first time in living
memory in what is hoped to be
a productive nesting season this
A generator has been purchased
for use on Anchor Island at the
entrance of Dusky Sound and
new electronic equipment will
be installed to monitor nest
movements over the season.
With rimu trees already fruiting
on the island it is hoped that this
will be an even more successful
kakapo breeding season than the
last. Thirty-three chicks hatched
on Codfish Island, near Stewart
Island, in 2009.
Kakapo, the world's largest
and only flightless parrot, are
a critically endangered native
species with only 121 birds left in
the world after the death last week
of 80 year-old kakapo Richard
Kakapo Recovery Programme
scientist Ron Moorhouse said the
males on Anchor Island have
already started booming -- their
mating call -- and it is expected
that the first mating of the season
will take place very soon. The
earliest nest would be at the end
of January or early February, and
they were expecting about eight or
nine nests in total, he said.
There are 41 kakapo on Anchor
Island, of which 23 are female.
Breeding is also expected on
Codfish Island with 63 birds, the
females totaling 33.
These birds do not breed every
year and the females need the
fruit of the rimu tree in particular
to nourish their young. It was the
only thing they could raise their
chicks with, he said. The kakapo
were aware of this and thus the
more rimu fruit available the more
kakapo were likely to nest, he
An electronic nest minder system
will replace the job of volunteers
who would record the movements
of female kakapo as they leave
and return to the nest, whether
they are gone over a certain
amount of time or if any predators
enter the nest area. It would
be too expensive to transport
volunteers to Anchor Island so
it was decided to invest in this
technology to keep track of the
There was also the issue of
available housing space but a few
volunteers will still be assisting
two Department of Conservation
staff stationed on the island.
Genetic diversity of the the kakapo
population remains a concern for
the upcoming breeding season
as it has been in previous years.
Dr Moorhouse said artificial
insemination would also be
undertaken in order to increase
the spread of what is considered
"genetically valuable". Inbreeding
and infertility had been issues in
the past and artificial insemination
would help ensure that all the
kakapo could have chicks rather
than just a few, he said.
Kakapo are presently situated on
Anchor and Codfish Islands, both
of which are predator-free. The
well-known male kakapo Sirocco
is currently on Maud Island and
a number of other surplus males
reside on an undisclosed island.
The last time there were
significant kakapo numbers in
Fiordland was in the 1930s.
Fiordland a breeding ground for future
survival of the kakapo
An electronic nest minder system will replace the job of volunteers who
previously recorded the movements of female kakapo in and around their
PHOTO: Department of Conservation
By Linda Jane Keegan
Kakapo chicks in their nest.
PHOTO: Department of Conservation
FATHER OF THE NATION
Fiordland kakapo Richard Henry -- who played a key role in the early days of the Kakapo Recovery Programme,
offering genetic diversity to an otherwise relatively inbred population -- died of natural causes last week on
Codfish Island. He was believed to be about 80 years old, the oldest surviving kakapo.
Richard Henry had not bred since 1999 and had shown signs of aging including wrinkles and blindness in one
eye. In his time Richard Henry fathered three offspring: Sinbad and Gulliver, two males, and Kuia, a female.
Richard Henry was the last kakapo to be discovered in the wild by Don Merton and John Cheyne in 1975.
He was named after pioneering Fiordland conservationist Richard Henry who, in the 1890s transferred
endangered species, including kakapo, to a safe haven on Resolution Island before realising stoats could
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