|Richard Henry was the ‘elder statesman’ of the kākāpō population and a lynchpin to the future of the species.
He was discovered in Fiordland in 1975, living more than 3500 feet above sea level above the sheer walls of the Gulliver Valley, and was managed on islands for the remainder of his life. He had a long association with humans and was thought to be around 80 years old when he died in December 2010.
He was also the only surviving mainland Fiordland bird, which meant he had a crucial role to play in ensuring genetic diversity in the population.
Interestingly, he also seemed to boom in a different ‘dialect’ to the Stewart Island birds, making single, widely-spaced booms, and he didn’t ching. He was a beautiful, big bird, with slightly different colourings from the Stewart Island kākāpō – brighter green with bold yellow markings.
In 1998, he fathered three chicks to Flossie on Maud Island including Sinbad. With their Fiordland genes, these birds play an important role in the future of the species. Richard Henry seemed to have been in semi-retirement towards the end, he did not boom during his last ten years.
He is named after Richard Henry, the pioneer New Zealand conservationist who first tried to safeguard kākāpō from predators by moving some to Resolution Island more than 100 years ago.