Posted in Travel, Wildlife

Animal of the Week: The Kakapo

Photo: jidanchaomian, via Flickr. Distributed under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.
The Kakapo, an anomaly amongst parrots. Photo by jidanchaomian, (via Flickr).

The kakapo is a parrot native to New Zealand, and it’s recent bad news and good news that warrants this edition’s animal spotlight.

But first, some facts —

  • “Kakapo” comes from the Maori words for “parrot” (kākā) and “night” (). It has also been called the “owl parrot”.
  • The kakapo is the world’s only flightless and nocturnal parrot. Instead, kakapo gets around by hiking, jumping and parachuting from place to place. Its strong legs and excellent climbing ability makes up for its lack of flight, while its wings act as parachutes when descending from heights.
  • The kakapo’s sense of smell is unique among parrots. In fact, it has only been reported in one other parrot species. This talent helps the animal search for food at night (the kakapo’s daytime).
  • It is also the heaviest parrot in the world, with an average weight of 8 pounds (3.5 kg).
  • Its mating boom can be heard from several miles away. Take a listen to that and other sounds of the creature here, here and here. Pretty cool, right?
Sirocco the kakapo climbs a tree in New Zealand. Kakapos can climb the heights of trees and vines. Photo by Mike Bodie. Department of Conservation, New Zealand (via Flickr).
Sirocco the kakapo climbs a tree in New Zealand. Kakapos can climb the heights of trees and vines. Photo by Mike Bodie. Department of Conservation, New Zealand (via Flickr).

The Bad News: The kakapo’s numbers have dropped in recent decades because of predators introduced into their native habitat. Since they can’t fly, their ability to protect themselves is severely diminished. The animal is listed as critically endangered, and there are so few left in the world that each is given a name. At its lowest figure in the 1970s, only 18 known kakapos existed in the wild.

The Good News: But recent conservation efforts in New Zealand have helped salvage the creature from dwindling numbers. The most recent population count worldwide: 157.

Trevor the kakapo feeding on some fruit
Trevor the kakapo eats some fruit. Photo by Don Merton, from the Department of Conservation (via the BBC).

In other words, the kakapo is on the rise.

The kakapo has been called ugly, remarkable, strange, unique, even cute, but its recovery from near extinction is what is truly fascinating. I guess, even when all hope seems lost, hope remains. As long as there is a will, a plan, a strategy for betterment, there most certainly can be a way. Crazy thing, this thing called hope.

Question is: are we willing to look for it?

Stay inspired,

Curious by Nature

Sources: Wired, BBC, Kakapo Recovery, Flickr

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4 thoughts on “Animal of the Week: The Kakapo

    1. It certainly is good news for the kakapo! I’m hopeful that the species’ best days are ahead. And it’s a great example and inspiration for conservation efforts of other endangered species around the world.

      Thanks for commenting, Chloe!

  1. So nice to have you back! It’s been a long time! Interesting animal! Hope makes all the difference! 🙂

    Hope to see more posts from you soon.

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