To kick off the new WIP, our distinguished guest, Barbara Heidenreich,is blogging today. Thought it would be best for you to be introduced to the kakapo by someone who has met one personally! Without further ado:
“I don’t think I have ever met a parrot as a fascinating as the kakapo. They are flightless, nocturnal, solitary and huge. (Up to 4 kilos!) They are also on the brink of extinction. There are only 127 individuals left in the entire world. People often ask me “What about in captivity?” The answer is there are none in captivity. They all live on predator free islands that are managed by the New Zealand Department of Conservation. It can be difficult to comprehend just how few birds that really is and how much work is going into to increasing that number.
The Kakapo Recovery Team consists of only nine full time staff. They are field biologists, population geneticists, researchers, evolutionary biologists, conservationists, parrot experts and wildlife warriors all focused on a mission to save a most amazing bird. I was privileged to spend a few weeks with some members of the team. Talk about passion for their job! These people endure some incredibly difficult conditions to do their work. One of my traveling companions told me stories about hanging out the side of a helicopter with the radio telemetry receiver to track birds on the side of a cliff. I was so impressed with just how committed they are to their mission.
My small contribution to the project was to help the team train Sirocco the ambassador bird for the project. Sirocco became famous when a video in which he mated with Mark Cawardine’s head went viral on YouTube. http://youtu.be/9T1vfsHYiKY His amorous antics made him a celebrity, but his behavior was a bit of a problem. We had some great success working with him. You can read more about his training on my Good Bird Inc blog. http://goodbirdinc.blogspot.com/2011/12/training-sirocco-kakapo.html
I also showed the team how to use positive reinforcement to manage day to day interactions with Sirocco and to also teach him how to present natural behaviors for educational opportunities. Kakapo have a unique natural history and behavioral repertoire. Sharing this with the public was one of the goals of the team.
Another goal is to raise awareness and funding to help save kakapo. The team is working hard towards creating a large sustainable population of kakapo. This takes public support. One of the things I absolutely adore about the companion parrot community is their wonderful commitment to help save parrots out in the wild. That connection with the bird in your own life is so powerful that it can lead to conservation action. Amazing! I know my birds caused me to want to know about kakapo and after having the chance to meet Sirocco and getting to know him as an individual I can’t help but want to do what I can to make sure kakapo are here on this earth forever. Here is your chance to be a part of that mission.
Arlene has a new project! A kakapo painting based on one of my photographs of Sirocco. And it could be yours. The original art will be raffled off and all proceeds will go to The Kakapo Recovery Project. You can play an important role in saving kakapo from extinction and get to adorn your house with the image of quite a unique parrot personality, the one and only Sirocco. I hope you will enter to win. It will be a one of kind piece featuring a one of a kind bird. To learn more about kakapo, visit www.kakaporecovery.org.nz Also check out the Kakapo Recovery –The Official Site on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/#!/KakapoRecovery
A great big THANK YOU to Barbara for this guest blog. Don’t forget to check out Good Bird Magazine at www.goodbirdinc.com this is a great magazine, just loaded with information on positive reinforcement. As the WIP progresses, we will keep you updated on how and where to buy raffle tickets.