Date: 22 May 2013
The Department of Conservation, New Zealand Aluminium Smelters and Forest and Bird are heartened by the news that the kākāpō has been named the World’s Favourite Species in an online poll featuring 50 animals from across the globe.
As part of its 10th birthday celebrations ARKive.org – a popular online multimedia guide to the world's endangered species run by conservation charity Wildscreen – sought to find the world’s top 10 favourite species, with 14,000 voters from 162 countries taking part.
Kākāpō took out top honours ahead of the tiger in second place and African elephant in third.
Sirocco has been pivotal in bringing attention to the plight of the kakapo, and for gaining international awareness. During the ARKive poll he mobilised his over 20,000 online followers on Facebook and Twitter to join #teamkākāpō and cast their vote accordingly
Kākāpō Recovery programme manager Deidre Vercoe said the most pleasing aspect of the poll result was the fact that voters were most concerned about the need to protect the species from extinction.
"As well as being a taonga species to New Zealand, it was becoming increasingly apparent that kākāpō was treasured world wide. It would be wonderful to reach a stage when all kids throughout the world know what a kākāpō is like they do a tiger."
The kākāpō’s first real introduction to the world stage was through the BBC documentary Last Chance to See and those memorable images of Sirocco misbehaving on Mark Carwadine’s head, said Ms Vercoe.
"As a result of that appearance, Sirocco shot to fame. This was a catalyst in bringing attention to the plight of the kākāpō, and for gaining international awareness."
Sirocco is now the official spokesbird for conservation, goes on annual display as the ambassador for Kakapo Recovery and has more than 20,000 online followers on Facebook and Twitter.
The Kākāpō Recovery team hopes the high profile of kākāpō will continue to pave the way for further collaborations and partnerships with national and international experts and supporters.
"We have a growing network of people keen to assist us, from vets and bird nutritionists to artists wishing to help spread the kākāpō story. There are numerous ways that others can make a real difference to the programme and we would welcome their support," Ms Vercoe said.
The current kākāpō population is 124, up from a low of 51 in 1995. There has been no breeding during the past two summers because of poor rimu crops, but the team predict a small breeding season will occur in early 2014. The flightless birds rely on a good rimu fruiting season to trigger breeding.
Conservation in partnership
DOC's kākāpō recovery work is actively supported by a partnership involving New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Limited and Forest & Bird.
First signed 23 years ago, the agreement is DOC’s longest running conservation partnership and has already injected $4million towards breeding programmes, predator proof sanctuaries and innovative research for the flightless parrot.
The long term kākāpō recovery goal is to have 150 females at three separate sites, one of which is self-sustaining.
- Kākāpō Recovery on Facebook
- Sirocco on Facebook
- Sirocco on Twitter
- Arkive website
- Kākāpō Recovery website
Deidre Vercoe, Kākāpō Recovery Programme Manager, Ph +64 3 2112481 or +64 27 290 2783