Date: 31 January 2012
The death of another adult kakapo – the second this month – makes the opportunity for the public to see a live one on display this weekend even more special.
Kakapo Recovery programme manager Deidre Vercoe Scott said Sandra, a female discovered on Stewart Island in 1992, was found dead on Anchor Island at the weekend, caught up by her transmitter harness.
“It’s gutting for the team to lose one of the birds this way,” she said.
Transmitters are fitted on every kakapo and are crucial for locating the birds.
“Without transmitters, our mission to support and grow the kakapo population would be virtually impossible”
Ms Vercoe Scott said it was the first time a kakapo had died in such a manner.
“The harnesses are fitted in a way that the bird will wriggle out of them if they get hooked on something. We’ve been using them for the past 31 years without a death like this occurring.
“We’re not sure what happened to Sandra but she may have got really twisted up. It’s extremely upsetting.”
Sandra didn’t have a good breeding history, raising just one chick in 1999, Morehu.
Her death is the fourth since September 2011 and sees the kakapo population fall to 127, down from a high of 131 following last year’s breeding season. There will be no breeding season this year.
Ms Vercoe Scott said the loss makes the opportunity the public has to see a kakapo this weekend more significant.
Rooster, a young male kakapo who hatched on Whenua Hou/Codfish Island in 2008, will be transferred off the island and spend the night of 5 February in a special display pen at the Te Rau Aroha Marae in Bluff, where viewing will be open to all. Because kakapo are nocturnal birds the public will have the chance to view him anytime between 7 pm that evening and 6 am the following morning, Waitangi Day.
Ms Vercoe Scott said the viewing offered a very rare and special opportunity for people to see a kakapo, which is regarded as taonga by Ngai Tahu.
“This is a great chance for parents and caregivers to bundle up their children and go for a unique trip in the middle of the night. It’s something they will never forget.”