Popolo for Kākāpō
Organized by: Liz Popolo
Tomorrow, I'll be turning 30 years old.
Since I was born in 1986, approximately 2.5 billion humans have been born into this world - compare this to only 90 kākāpō chicks. In 1995, the worldwide kākāpō population hit a record low of only 51 birds; however, breeding and conservation efforts since then have brought the population up to 123 current adults.
In 2016, the kākāpō has experienced a record breeding season, with 47 chicks hatched (32 of which survived). This is a critical turning point for this unique and adorable species of flightless parrot, and so I'm committing any funds raised in association with my 30th birthday to the Kākāpō Recovery Programme, a segment of the Department of Conservation of New Zealand.
A bit about this beautiful bird!
The Kākāpō is named after the Maori words meaning "night parrot." It's a stocky little green bird; namely, a species of flightless parrot which lives off of seeds and fruits, and is limited exclusively to the islands of New Zealand. With the arrival of Europeans in the 1840s and the introduction of cats and dogs to the islands, the kākāpō began to be hunted for its meat, and feral cats and stoats preyed on and decimated the kākāpō population. It has had a difficult time in keeping a foothold on its population levels, because its breeding is closely tied to the availability of specific kinds of fruit in certain seasons, meaning the kākāpō is prone to going years at a time with no chick births, interspersed with boom seasons (for instance this year, 2016).
I first became introduced to the kākāpō through a book by Douglas Adams (my favorite author) called Last Chance To See. The BBC produced a television series by the same name, featuring Stephen Fry, another idol of mine. The series has done remarkable work in introducing rare and critically endangered species to the public, and encouraged conservation efforts.
I hope you'll join me in helping to bring back this sweet little parrot from the brink. In the world of conservation, it's incredible that just a few dollars really can go a long way. The Kākāpō Recovery Programme uses donations from people like us to pay for disease screening kits, nesting boxes, radio tracking equipment, and portable incubators. And of course, the time given by individual volunteers is invaluable.
Thank you so much for reading, and I hope for future years to bring nothing but more boom seasons for the little kākāpō!