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Endangered species of New Zealand

Kakapo - Strigops habroptilus

Distribution Fossil evidence shows that the kakapo ranged from the top of the North Island to the south of the South Island, and from sea to alpine level. Kakapo remains have been found in old Maori food waste sites, however, early European accounts are that its flesh tasted putrid. It is now thought highly unlikely that any kakapo any remain on the mainland and the last captures were in Fiordland National Park. Introduced stoats are believed to have been the predominant cause in the decline of kakapo.

Diet Kakapo are herbivorous and a favourite is the fruit of rimu trees.

Breeding The male kakapo inflates its body and emits a sonic boom which can be heard for considerable distance during the breeding season that starts in December. The male doesn't assist raise the young, who hatch from one to four eggs, and fledge in about 10 weeks. The hen may, however, continue to keep feeding the young for up to six months.

General There were 86 kakapo left by 2008, according to Morris and Ballance (2008), so kakapo are not only Earth's heaviest - but also Earth's rarest parrot. Other interesting facts are that they are Earth's only flightless parrot and also Earth's only nocturnal parrot. The kakapo can, despite being flightless, climb to the tops of trees and glide down. They also use their short wings for support when traversing difficult terrain. The kakapo being nocturnal gives rise to its Maori name. The kakapo bases itself in a bowl and has a network of tracks. This is known as their bowl and track network which is unique to kakapo. It's not know how long they live but the oldest kakapo is believed to be 35 to 100 years old.

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Birds of New Zealand
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Photographs © Dr Paddy Ryan
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