Geography

Minders: the kakapo caregivers of Codfish Island

During the summer of 2002, kakapo on Codfish Island/Whenua Hou, off the north-western coast of Stewart Island, bred with unprecedented success. Of 26 chicks hatched, 24 survived, boosting total kakapo numbers to 86—the highest they have been in 20 years. For the more than 100 volunteers who watched over eggs and chicks while the mother birds foraged for food, caring for kakapo was no easy assignment. It entailed a twice-daily slog along steep, boggy tracks and nights spent alone in a tent in the forest. But nest minders such as Hamish Downer, here getting his boots well immersed in the local mud, and Sue Bolland, lifting a 24-day-old chick out of its nest-box for weighing, had only one word for the chance to take part in the restoration of the kakapo’s fortunes: priceless.

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