Lisa

Lisa was whisked away from Rakiura/Stewart Island, a few days after her discovery in August 1982.

She was part of a large translocation of 8 other females and 12 males moved to Hauturu/Little Barrier Island to keep them safe from cats, which were killing an alarming number of kākāpō on Rakiura at that time.

After four years on Little Barrier Island (Hauturu), her radio-transmitter was removed, and she evaded human detection and management for the next 13 years. This was despite considerable effort put into relocating her, using kākāpō-indicating dogs, and tempting her into cage traps with kumara and apple treats.

Hauturu is a large and very rugged island which made relocating any kākāpō without radio-tags extremely difficult. Due to the presence of rats at that time, and different food species available; little effective breeding occurred there. Therefore most kākāpō were translocated to Codfish Island (Whenua Hou) and Maud Island from 1996-98; however five males remained, and two females were unaccounted for.

Fresh mating sign at a track and bowl site in 1999 meant that one of those females was alive. With the prospect of good scent being associated with a nest; indicator dogs were used a few weeks later, and Lisa was found sitting on three eggs in a nest at the base of a hollow tree. Ellie, Hauturu and Aranga hatched from those eggs, after they had been pulled for hand-raising.

With a fresh transmitter attached to Lisa, her whereabouts became known again, and her translocation planned for later in the year. Reluctant to leave, she developed a penchant for roosting high up in trees; staff called her bluff by using ropes and climbing gear to reach her perch, 25m above ground.

Today, Lisa is on Whenua Hou (Codfish Island) – a breeze to manage, always calm at her nest and is enthusiastic about supplementary food. She is always the earliest bird to lay and is one of the most prolific egg producers, laying clutches in 2002 and 2009.

However, her egg hatch rate remains low and, following the death of Purity (aged two) in 2011, she has only seven offspring from the 22 eggs she has laid.

Lisa’s Whenua Hou offspring are: Hananui (2002); Tiwhiri and Hurihuri (hand-reared in 2009) and Atareta (raised by Aunty Ellie in 2011).

This low hatch rate remains a curse for kākāpō, which is why artificial insemination and retaining genetic diversity are high on the list for Kākāpō Recovery.

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