Author(s): Alison Ballance
New Zealand’s threatened night parrot, the kākāpō, has been the focus of a remarkable conservation effort that has seen the bird’s population rise from a perilous low of 51 aging birds to three times that number. Kākāpō are unique and unusual birds. Long-lived, flightless heavyweights, they only breed every two to four years, and survive on just a small number of predator-free island sanctuaries.
A dedicated team of rangers and scientists know every kākāpō by name, and people from around the world follow this pioneering conservation programme on social media. Every new chick is celebrated, every death is mourned, and the antics of the most famous kākāpō of all, Sirocco, make headlines.
Natural history writer and broadcaster Alison Ballance has been involved with kākāpō since the mid-1990s, and has a unique insight into the birds and their human minders. In this fully updated edition of Kākāpō, she follows the fall and rise of one of the world’s most unusual birds, from the brink of extinction through a roller-coaster ride of hope and loss, to today, when the species has a bright future ahead. These are exciting times for kākāpō and after 30 years of intensive management the Department of Conservation’s Kākāpō Recovery team hope they are about to do themselves out of a job.
UPDATED FROM FIRST EDITION
ALISON BALLANCE is a zoologist, writer and broadcaster. In 2017 she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to natural history, film-making and broadcasting. Since 2008 she has produced and presented Radio New Zealand’s weekly science and environment programme Our Changing World. Before that she spent 18 years producing and directing wildlife documentaries for NHNZ, including the film To Save the Kākāpō. She has written 29 books, including Hoki: The story of a kākāpō, and the biography of conservationist Don Merton. The first edition of Kākāpō: Rescued from the brink of extinction drew on her long association with the Kākāpō Recovery Programme and won the 2011 Royal Society of New Zealand Science Book Prize.