Kakapo, World’s Largest Flightless Nocturnal Parrot, Only 154 Left
Kakapo, World’s Largest Flightless Nocturnal Parrot, Only 154 Left: The kakapo, also known as an “owl parrot” because of its owl-like face, has become famous in the recent years following a few documentaries including the BBC TV series Last Chance to See hosted by Stephen Fry and zoologist Mark Carwardine. The word “kakapo” was derived from the Maori words kākā (parrot) + pō(night). The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand to whom the bird, like many other flightless birds, was culturally important for centuries. Their near extinction during the late 19th century started an extensive recovery program that is now helping the species survive and multiply. Here is more about the bird.
A kakapo is a species of a large, flightless parrot measuring an average two feet long and weighing up to two kilograms. It is endemic to New Zealand and possibly one of the longest-living birds in the world.
The arrival of Maori people in the late 13th century, and later the Europeans, had a substantial impact on New Zealand’s endemic wildlife as they brought with them predatory mammals.
The Maori hunted the kakapo for food and for their skin and feathers. They also brought with them dogs which caught the kakapo quite easily because they could not fly and Polynesian rats which preyed on their chicks and eggs. During the mid-19th century, the European settlers arrived and brought with them stoats, ferrets, and weasels to control rabbits, and also dogs and cats which hunted the kakapo for food. Another contributing factor for driving the birds to the brink of extinction was the loss of habitat when the humans cleared land for grazing and farming.
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