Kākāpō have inhabited New Zealand for thousands of years but, with the arrival of humans and introduced predators, their once abundant numbers rapidly declined.
By the 1970s only 18 kākāpō were known to exist – all in Fiordland and all males. The species seemed doomed to extinction.
But in 1977, a population of male and female kākāpō was discovered on Stewart Island, giving new hope for the survival of this precious bird.
Since then, a small team of dedicated staff from the Department of Conservation have worked tirelessly to protect, manage and grow the kākāpō population.
They have been supported by volunteers throughout New Zealand and, increasingly overseas, who provide extra support – by nest-minding and supplementary feeding – during the precious breeding seasons.
Today there are kākāpō breeding populations on three predator-free islands: Whenua Hou/Codfish Island, off Stewart Island, Anchor Island in southwest Fiordland and Hauturu o Toi/Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf. Staff work year round ensuring the birds are safe, healthy and well fed.
The aim of Kākāpō Recovery is to establish at least two managed populations of kākāpō and another self-sustaining population, each with at least 50 breeding aged females, in a protected habitat.
See the Kākāpō infographic for a great summary about the kākāpō and the programme.