Project Overview

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More than 7 Billion People on Earth. Fewer than 160 Kākāpō. Time is critical.

Kākāpō are among the most ancient bird species, and have inhabited New Zealand for millions of years. But with the arrival of humans and introduced predators, their once-abundant numbers rapidly declined. By the 1970s only 18 Kākāpō were known to exist in New Zealand. The flightless species–the world’s heaviest parrot–seemed doomed to extinction.

In 1977 a population of male and female Kākāpō was discovered on the southern island of New Zealand, Stewart Island, giving new hope for the survival of this precious bird. Since then, a small team of dedicated staff from the New Zealand Department of Conservation has worked tirelessly to protect, manage and grow the Kākāpō population. Staff work year round to ensure the birds are safe, healthy and well fed. Global Wildlife Conservation has joined as an official supporter of the Department of Conservation’s Kākāpō Recovery Programme.

The Department of Conservation has been supported by volunteers throughout New Zealand and, increasingly overseas. While New Zealand works toward Predator Free New Zealand, the Kākāpō have been removed from the mainland to safely breed on three New Zealand predator-free islands. The Kākāpō population has gone from 86 in 2007 to 154 in 2017.

(Top photo by Dianne Mason, circular photo by Pania Dalley)

Project Goals

Ranger Freya with telemetry gear on Anchor Island. (Photo by Laura Patience)

Mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei’/ ‘For us and our children after us’.
-Māori proverb

The aim of Kākāpō Recovery is to work together to restore Kākāpō to large areas of their former natural range as a functioning part of the ecosystem. Kākāpō Recovery combines the efforts of scientists, rangers and volunteers who are charged with looking after the few remaining Kākāpō in the world. Now Kākāpō Recovery aims to establish at least two managed populations and another self-sustaining population, each with at least 50 breeding-aged females, in a protected habitat.

To do so, the project’s ongoing goals include:

  • In the wild: Managing the birds to ensure they are healthy and ready for breeding.
  • Research: Researching new ideas that might help ensure a future for the Kākāpō.
  • Technology: Developing new technology that helps the recovery program in its daily work.

You can help. Make a donation today to support this important work:

Fast Facts

Red List status

Critically Endangered

Threats

Predators, humans

Nesting

Occurs only when there is mass fruiting of key plant species such as rimu and pink pine

Natural history

Flightless, nocturnal, world’s largest parrot

Additional GWC Projects in Australasia