Volunteering for the Kakapo Recovery Programme

One of the things I knew I had to do as a zoology student going on an exchange to New Zealand was try to do some voluntary work for the Kakapo Recovery Programme.

Kakapo are special birds for a number of reasons: they’re the only parrot species with a lek mating system, they are the heaviest parrot in the world in fact. They can only be found in New Zealand, and their future as a species is hanging in the balance with only 124 remaining. They were easy meat for the first sealers and whalers to visit New Zealand, and were easy prey to introduced predators such as cats, stoats, ferrets and rats.

The remaining 124 birds have been moved to 2 offshore islands, Anchor Island off the west coast of Fiordland, and Codfish Island, west of Stewart Island. These are the only places in the world where this beautiful, intelligent and gentle bird can be found, and I was lucky enough to given the opportunity by the Department of Conservation to work as a volunteer on both of them.

I spent 2 weeks living and working on Anchor Island over Christmas and New Year with 2  other kakapo rangers, Tim and Steve. I then spent a further 2 weeks living and working on Codfish Island with 1 other person, kakapo ranger Errol.

During my time as a volunteer on the islands I kept a daily diary, but to summarise these 4 weeks – best month of my life!

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