Monday, March 22, 2010


Every now and then I have a surprising surge of patriotism. I had one last evening watching the TV programme about Stephen Fry’s search for endangered animals. I’d enjoyed previous programmes about Madagascar and Indonesia. I would not like to confront a komodo dragon whereas lemurs look cuddly.

But this time he was in New Zealand. What a magnificent wilderness Fiordland is. He was in search of the kakapo. But what was striking was the hard work of the workers and scientists engaged in conservation efforts. Their enthusiasm and dedication was heart-warming.

Kiwi, tuatara, weta and black robin – engaging tales. Especially the black robin, brought back from the brink of extinction. But above all the kakapo, such an absurd bird – a flightless nocturnal long-living parrot. Once found throughout the country, now only husbanded on a few remote islands, mainly Codfish Island off Stewart island.

They only breed when the rimu or kahikatea are fruiting. Looking after such eggs and chicks means the mother has to be fattened up. The males booming bowls are a strange form of courtship.

Even more strange was the behaviour of Sirocco on Codfish Island. Reared by humans he has bonded to them, even attempting to mate with Fry’s cameraman. Funny to watch except for the person having his head used in an attempt to continue the species. A birdbrain in action.

We were shown a remote Fiordland valley where they hope to reintroduce the kakapo to the mainland. I hope it’s not one where they intend to mine. It would be a tragedy to lose a potential spot for a natural sanctuary.

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