The Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus) is the only parrot which cannot fly. It lived in grassland, scrubland and coastal regions of New Zealand, but is now so rare they can only be seen on protected offshore islands. Kakapo means 'night parrot' in the Maori language.
Unlike other parrots, male kakapos gather together to compete with the other males and to call females with a deep booming sound. There are 2 to 3 eggs in each set of eggs laid. The eggs are laid in a hollow part of a tree. The female incubates the eggs for 10 weeks. She only leaves the eggs when she leaves to find food.
Kakapo had no natural enemies on the islands of New Zealand were they live, and lost the ability to fly. At one time there were many kakapo. Now only about 150 kakapo still live in New Zealand. It is a critically endangered species. The decrease in the number of kakapo is mostly from predatory animals (for example, cats, dogs, stoats, ferrets,and rats) that settlers brought with them to New Zealand. The kakapo was also eaten by Maori and European settlers.
At one point, kakapo were almost wiped out. Conservation efforts began in the 1890s, but they were not very successful until the Kakapo Recovery Plan in the 1980s. As of January 2009, surviving Kakapos are kept on two predator-free islands, Codfish (Whenua Hou) and Anchor islands, where they are closely monitored. Two large Fiordland islands, Resolution and Secretary, have been prepared as self-sustaining ecosystems for the Kakapo.
The conservation of the Kakapo has made the species well known. Many books and documentaries detailing the plight of the Kakapo have been produced in recent years, one of the earliest being Two in the Bush, made by Gerald Durrell for the BBC in 1962. A feature-length documentary, won two major awards at the Reel Earth Environmental Film Festival.
Two of the most significant documentaries, both made by NHNZ, are Kakapo - Night Parrot (1982) and To Save the Kakapo (1997). The BBC's Natural History Unit also featured the Kakapo, including a sequence with Sir David Attenborough in The Life of Birds. It was also one of the endangered animals that Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine set out to find for the radio series and book Last Chance to See. An updated version of the series has been produced for BBC TV, in which Stephen Fry and Carwardine revisit the animals to see how they are getting on almost 20 years later, and in January 2009, they spent time filming the Kakapo on Codfish Island.
Images for kids
Sinbad Gully in Fiordland, seen between the mountains on the far side of a fjord, was one of the last strongholds of the kakapo on mainland New Zealand.
Kakapo Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.