DOC has managed to breed two kakapo using artificial insemination in what’s being hailed as a world first and a boost for critically-endangered birds everywhere.
Kakapo are notoriously slow to reproduce, and DOC hopes the breakthrough will now ensure the birds’ survival.
There are only 124 kakapo in existence, but with the help of artificial insemination, or AI, they may just be able to claw their way back from the brink of extinction.
“It’s just a fantastic tool for us to protect the future population of kakapo against further inbreeding, and also hopefully improve fertility rates,” says DOC’s Deirdre Vercoe.
“It’s a real breakthrough, a scientific breakthrough to achieve AI in a wild bird like this,” says Forest & Bird’s Chris Todd.
With more than 50 percent of kakapo eggs infertile, associate professor Ian Jameison says AI is a revolutionary tool in the fight for their survival.
07 October 2009
This week’s screening of the BBC’s “Last Chance to See” programme featuring New Zealand’s own conservation ambassador Sirocco the kākāpō, has catapulted kākāpō recovery into the international spotlight.
Department of Conservation staff have been amazed by the response that viewers of the “Last Chance to See” programme, starring Stephen Fry and Mark Cawardine, has evoked from the British public.
“His Facebook page alone jumped from 600 friends to over 2000 friends in the 48 hours following the broadcast of the kākāpō episode of “Last Chance to See”,” said Sirocco’s media advisor Nic Vallance from the Department of Conservation.
“And the Youtube clip of him getting ‘up close and personal’ with presenter Mark Cawardine has resulted in well over half a million hits.”
The show “Last Chance to See” is a remake of the series that the late Douglas Adams and Mark Cawardine recorded for radio and published a book on in 1990.
Many of the comments posted on Sirocco’s rapidly growing Facebook page send words of support and encouragement to kākāpō recovery as well as many offers of donations to continue to increase the survival of the kākāpō.
“The international interest in kākāpō is just fantastic,” said Vallance.