The kakapo, one of the world’s rarest birds, just had their best breeding season ever after their numbers grew by 28%!
These beautiful, flightless birds can only be found on three islands in New Zealand. Conservationists placed them on the islands because they have no known predators, and they are thriving there!
Kakapo, which look like chubby parrots, only breed every 4 to 6 years and it is not an easy task to successfully rear them to the fledgling stage of their development.
Only 6 chicks were successfully raise in 2014. So conservationists decided to hand-rear some chicks this year. When they are bigger, they will join their fellow adult kakapo on the islands.
Kakapos have a very interesting story to tell. Back in the early 1970’s there were only 18 known to be alive and all of them were male. Then, in 1977, a miracle happened.
Some females were found! Conservationists have been working diligently ever since to increase the kakapo’s numbers. And the program has been very successful!
In order to help improve genetic diversity of the population and manage breeding, scientists began sequencing the kakapos genomes earlier this year.
Money for the project was raised partly through crowdfunding. This is the first time that an entire population of animal has been genome sequenced.