As of December 2017, there are only 154 living kakapos left, and their species is considered critically endangered. To preserve them, all the known birds are kept on three predator-free islands and closely monitored.
Though conservation efforts for kakapo had started as early as the 1890s, it wasn’t until the implementation of the Kakapo Recovery Plan in the 1980s that there was any real success. Although 65 kakapos found at that time were relocated to four islands, they had to be evacuated a few times while the conservationists dealt with wild cats, rats, or stoats. Despite these efforts, between 1981 and 1994, nine of the 21 chicks were killed by rats.
By 1995, vigorous efforts were made to kill the rats using traps or poison stations. Small cameras were also mounted near the nests for monitoring and to scare off the rats with flashlights or popping sounds. By April 2012, the three predator-free islands of Codfish, Anchor, and Little Barrier became home to the current living population of kakapo. The birds are now continuously monitored as each of them is equipped with a radio transmitter.
The kakapo breeds only once every two to five years when a plant called “rimu” produces protein-rich fruit and seeds. So, the biologists devised a supplementary diet to increase breeding and control sex ratio.
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