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” (pō). 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?
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.
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?
Curious by Nature