Date: 26 January 2016
The most genetically-important female kākāpō, Kuia, has mated for the first time, but Kākāpō Recovery rangers, on Anchor Island, won’t know if she’s laid eggs for another few days.
Kuia, 18, is one of three siblings that carry the precious genes of their father, Richard Henry, who was the last remaining Fiordland kākāpō . Her brothers Sinbad and Gulliver haven’t fathered any chicks yet.
The rest of the kākāpō population is from Rakiura/Stewart Island stock.
Operations manager kākāpō/takahē Deidre Vercoe said she was hopeful any eggs Kuia laid would be fertile, because she had successfully mated with two different males, Blake and Kumi. “Both boys have also mated for the first time, so we’re really excited that so many new and young birds are breeding.”
Already one female kākāpō has laid eggs, on Anchor Island, in Dusky Sound. First-time mother Tiwhiri, age 7, was discovered on a nest at the weekend, but the team was still to check the eggs to see if they were fertile. So far, 10 females have been known to have mated on Anchor Island this month, with another three confirmed on Codfish Island/Whenua Hou.
Ms Vercoe said given that only one female had ever mated on Anchor Island, back in 2011, the flurry of activity this month was a positive sign for the recovery programme. “We suspect the female kākāpō have been spurred into action because of the availability of beech, but we won’t know for sure until they start feeding their chicks.”
It would be significant for the recovery programme if it was determined the females had responded to the beech mast because such behaviour hadn’t been observed before, she said
Kākāpō last bred in 2014, with six chicks successfully raised. The first chicks for 2016 are expected to hatch towards the end of February and will add to the current population of 125.
Kākāpō Recovery’s long term goal is to have 150 females at three separate sites, one of which is self-sustaining.
Karen Arnold, Kākāpō advocacy ranger
Mobile: +64 27 268 8613