DATE: 16 AUGUST, 2012
Kakapo Death on Whenua Hou/Codfish Island
Kakapo Recovery has been dealt a disappointing blow, following the discovery of another dead bird – the sixth during the
Barnard was found dead by kakapo rangers on Whenua Hou/Codfish Island at the weekend, when they went looking for him for
his annual transmitter change.
Kakapo Recovery programme manager Deidre Vercoe Scott said the team was gutted by Barnard’s death, especially since it
appeared to have gone unnoticed for up to three months.
“While it’s true we only sight these birds once a year for health checks and a transmitter change, Kakapo Recovery
prides itself on having technology that allows us to monitor our precious population, with minimal interference.
“But that technology is constantly changing to increase the information that we can collect. We may be experiencing some
problems with how we interpret these complex transmitter signals accurately, so we will be looking into this closely.
While it won’t prevent a kakapo death, identifying a mortality signal as soon as possible means we get better
information from the autopsy examination.”
Barnard was an unknown-age bird, first discovered on Stewart Island in 1982. He fathered eight chicks, including five of
the 11 hatched during the last breeding season in 2011. His death sees the kakapo population reduce to 125.
Ms Vercoe Scott said kakapo deaths were a reminder that, although Kakapo Recovery had achieved much during the past 22
years – increasing the total population from 49 to 131 last year – the kakapo was still a critically endangered species
and vulnerable. And, with an ageing population, an increase in mortality was inevitable.
“We can expect to see the population numbers continue to go up and down for several years to come because quite a few of
the birds are possibly very old. The good news is more than half the kakapo population consists of young breeding age
birds and indications are that there will be a breeding season this summer - planning for that is well underway.”