Two young female kakapo have been found dead – one on Whenua Hou/Codfish Island, off Stewart Island, the other on Anchor Island in Fiordland.
Kakapo Recovery programme manager Deidre Vercoe Scott said the two birds were discovered by rangers doing transmitter changes during the weekend. The first, Purity, hatched during the bumper 2009 breeding season. It was estimated she had been dead around ten days. The other, Monoa, which hatched in 2002, was found Sunday on Anchor Island. She had been dead for quite some time, indicating the two deaths were not linked.
“At this stage, we have no idea what the cause of either death is. Initial autopsies have been carried out at Auckland Zoo and showed no obvious reasons,” she said.
Tissue samples had been sent to Massey University. "We now have to wait for further results.”
The news comes during the same week “star” bird Sirocco officially launched his career as an advocate for Kakapo Recovery. Sirocco is on display at Orokonui Ecosanctuary, near Dunedin, for most of September before he heads to ZEALANDIA, in Wellington.
Ms Vercoe Scott said the kakapo deaths were a reminder that, although Kakapo Recovery had achieved much during the past 21 years – increasing the total population from 49 to 131 this year – the kakapo was still a critically endangered species and vulnerable.
“While it is such a shame to lose two young females, it's a fact that, as kakapo numbers increase, we can expect a natural increase in mortality rates for a variety of reasons. The good news is more than half the kakapo population is young breeding age birds, so the recovery of kakapo is still in good shape.”