Kākāpō Recovery Programme
Meridian and the kākāpō.
How we’re helping renew a species.
One of the more colourful creatures in New Zealand forests, the kākāpō is an endangered national treasure, with current population sitting at only 210 birds. At Meridian, we have teamed up with the Department of Conservation to support the Kākāpō Recovery Programme, which aims to get kākāpō off the endangered list and back to their former natural range.
And it’s not just a partnership between us and DOC. We work closely with Ngāi Tahu. “Kākāpō are treasured by Ngāi Tahu as a taonga species, they are part of our tribal identity and it’s wonderful to see that Meridian values them too,” says Tāne Davis, the Ngāi Tahu appointee to the Kākāpō Recovery Group.
Meridian’s involvement helps fund research and initiatives relating to genetics, nutrition, disease management and finding new sites. It also helps raise awareness of the plight of kākāpō.
At Meridian, we’re proud to support the mahi of the Kākāpō Recovery Programme. Keen to do the same?
Smart Eggs. The future of breeding.
One of the innovations we’re helping fund is the Smart Egg, a 3D-printed egg that helps with the incubation process. (But these eggs are only useful after breeding kicks off, which is why we’re also providing them with saxy saxophone music to get them in the mood.)
Often once a kākāpō lays an egg, the egg is removed from its nest and hatched in an incubator, and a dummy egg is placed in the nest in its place.
That’s where Smart Eggs come in. Smart Eggs mimic the sound and motion of a real egg, ensuring both the mother and nest are prepared for the arrival of the chick after it’s hatched and is returned to the nest.
Smart Eggs also keep track of other useful data, like the temperature and humidity of the nest. All this results in a higher hatching rate than the natural approach.
Developed in collaboration with the International Centre of Birds of Prey, if Smart Eggs are a success with the Kākāpō Recovery Programme, they could be used with many other endangered species around the globe.
It’s business time
Mother Nature strikes again. The natural world is a pretty amazing place. The how’s and why’s of things often make little sense to us mere humans. Like what determines a successful breeding season from one year to the next. On the surface, there seems to be no rhyme nor reason as to why kākāpō sometimes have more successful years than others. Turns out though, that there is a method to their madness and our friends at the Department of Conservation (DOC) have let us in on the secret.
For the kākāpō, it all lies in a fruit. The rimu fruit to be precise. When it’s a bumper rimu mast (technical speak for mass fruiting), it’s a strong indication that we are on for a decent breeding season. It’s important to note that this only happens every two to five years, so it’s a pretty big deal.
Like us, kākāpō also love a superfood. DOC is still doing research into what makes the rimu fruit so super but the signs are pointing to the presence of vitamin D which is key to making good strong eggs. Once the chicks hatch, the kākāpō mamas almost exclusively eat rimu fruit. This means that when the chicks leave the nest after 4-6 months, they’re all supped-up on fruit power to live their best independent life... continue reading.
To celebrate Meridian becoming the national partner of the Kākāpō Recovery Programme, the newest chicks visited our Manapōuri hydro power station.
Here’s the group representing DOC, Meridian and Ngāi Tahu on the day, with the kākāpō in their custom-built viewing enclosure.
DOC Threatened Species Ambassador Nicola Toki and Manapōuri site manager John Twidle with visiting kākāpō in their custom-built viewing enclosure at Manapōuri hydro power station.
The Kākāpō Recovery Programme is a world class conservation effort that has been in place since 1990, working to bring kākāpō back from the brink of extinction from a low of just 50 birds in 1995.
Kākāpō are native to New Zealand and are listed as a critically endangered species, with around 160 known surviving birds as of June 2016.
Meridian’s partnership with DOC will help to develop kākāpō conservation techniques, particularly through research on genetics, nutrition and disease management.
After their visit to Manapōuri hydro station, the kākāpō chicks were transported by helicopter to Pukenui/Anchor Island for release into the wild.