INDEPENDENT NEWS

Election result one for the birds

Published: Sat 8 Nov 2008 01:16 PM
7 November 2008 - Wellington
Forest & Bird media release for immediate use
Election result one for the birds
The kakapo today declared election victory in Forest & Bird’s annual Bird of the Year contest.
The kakapo won the avian electoral race with 578 votes, well ahead of its closest rival, the takahe, which scored 322 votes - a landslide victory for the world’s heaviest parrot.
In what was a tense electoral race in which the feathers often flew, the kakapo struggled to find support in the early weeks of the month-long polling period, but flew past the opposition in the final two weeks of the campaign.
Forest & Bird Chief Electoral Officer Kevin Hackwell says the kakapo’s campaign suffered early setbacks due to the success of attacks by the rival takahe faction, alleging that the kakapo had accepted undeclared political donations from wealthy migratory birds living in Monaco.
However, once the kakapo was cleared by the Serious Feathered Fraud Office (SFFO) its support recovered, Kevin Hackwell says.
Today the kakapo, known for preferring late-night activities, was having a bit of a lie-in, but is tipped to be celebrating tonight at well-known political nightspot The Green Parrot.
Last year’s winner, the grey warbler, slumped in popularity, only just making it into the top 10. And in a shock defeat, New Zealand’s national bird, the kiwi, for the first time failed to make the top 10, picking up just 102 votes for 13th place.
The kakapo’s key campaign pledges (endorsed by Forest & Bird) are believed to include:
Enhanced pest control to protect New Zealand’s endangered birdlife
Increased Government funding for native forest restoration projects
A zero tolerance policy on environmental offenders
Tougher border security to protect New Zealand birds from threats such as bird flu
Home detention and night-time curfews for cats found guilty of avian homicides
The kakapo’s Bird of the Year win comes as a huge victory for a bird that has hovered on the brink of extinction and remains critically endangered.  In the 1990s only 51 kakapo were left but recovery efforts have since boosted numbers to 90.
The solitary, nocturnal kakapo is unique and it is possibly the world’s longest-lived bird, with a life expectancy of 90 years. However, this flightless bird is largely defenceless and it is a slow breeder, leaving it vulnerable to introduced predators.
Asked whether it could work effectively with any of the parties expected to be elected to the human-dominated Government this weekend, the kakapo replied “squark, squark, boom, boom!”
The top 10 polling birds in Bird of the Year 2008 were:
Kakapo
Takahe
Kokako
Tui
Rifleman
Fantail
Morepork
Kea
Kereru
Grey warbler
ends

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