In 1989 a kākāpō recovery plan was delevoped that set out research and management priorities through to 1994. Immediately after the plan’s production a workshop, including everyone involved in kākāpō management and research, led to
changes to some parts of the plan but the endorsement of most of it.
As a result of the feedback, the Kākāpō Recovery Group was set up, consisting of experts from inside and outside the Department of Conservation.
As kākāpō numbers have grown and the proportion of females in the population has increased, the focus has shifted to ensuring long-term viability by reducing inbreeding, increasing hatching success and seeking new sites that could support kākāpō. Science continues to have an important part to play.
The Kākāpō Recovery Group meets twice a year and, every so often as a treat, even gets to see kākāpō.
Currently there are 9 members; Mick Clout, Dr. Jacqueline Beggs, John Innes, Tane Davis, Graham Elliott, Dr. Andrew Digby, Deidre Vercoe, Daryl Eason, and Jen Rickett. Read on to find out more about some of these current Kākāpō Recovery Group members.
Mick Clout has chaired the Kākāpō Recovery Group since 1995, when there were only 51 kākāpō in the world.
He is a vertebrate ecologist, specialising in studying the ecology and conservation of native birds and the behaviour and control of introduced mammals. Originally from the UK, where he studied Ecological Science at Edinburgh University, Mick obtained his PhD from the University of Auckland and then worked at Ecology Division (DSIR) and at DOC, as Manager of Research.
Shortly after his appointment to the University of Auckland in 1993 he founded the Invasive Species Specialist Group of SSC/IUCN, which he chaired for 15 years.
Mick is Professor of Conservation Ecology at the University of Auckland and is the Royal Society of NZ representative on the NZ Conservation Authority.
Assoc. Professor Jacqueline Beggs is a conservation ecologist based at The University of Auckland.
Her early research focused on one of kākāpō’s closest relatives, the kaka (also a forest parrot), and she is currently collaborating on a study of the movement ecology of kaka on Aotea (Great Barrier Island).
Much of Jacqueline’s research has been on the ecology and control of invasive invertebrates (particularly wasps), but she also studies the role of invertebrates in ecosystem function (such as pollination and decomposition) and the restoration of natural ecosystems.
Jacqueline has been on the Kākāpō Recovery Group since 2001.
John Innes (scientist, Landcare Research, Hamilton) has worked with diagnosing and reversing mainland fauna declines for three decades.
His research with North Island kokako clarified key roles of ship rats and possums as decline agents, resulting in experimental management that recovered kokako and spurred the development of ‘mainland islands’ for broader objectives.
John has been on the Kokako Recovery Group since its inception, as well as the kaki (black stilt) and kākāpō teams; has worked with dabchicks, black-billed gulls, kereru and tui, and has had a long interest in ship rats.
He currently leads a research programme aimed at helping mainland sanctuaries of various kinds; this includes running a website and an annual sanctuaries science workshop for sanctuaries practitioners.