Star kakapo takes break in Waikato

Last updated 16:04 21/08/2012

Sirocco the Kakapo is getting some help from bird expert Barbara Heidenreich

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New Zealand's most famous kakapo, Sirocco, is on holiday in Waikato for six weeks before returning to his home in the Marlborough Sounds.

Sirocco, who rose to fame after pouncing on zoologist Mark Carwardine during a BBC documentary in 2009, will stay in a temporary enclosure on Maungatautari Ecological Island near Cambridge from August 18 to September 26.

The mainland island is surrounded by a predator-proof fence and it is hoped his visit will promote the area as a fully-functioning wildlife reserve.

The Conservation Department, with help from Tui Nature Reserve staff, took Sirocco by boat from predator-free Maud Island, Pelorus Sound, to Duncan Bay, where he was driven to Nelson and flown to Hamilton Airport via Auckland courtesy of Air New Zealand.

Conservation Department Maud Island ranger Chris Birmingham said Sirocco advocated for the conservation of kakapo on behalf of the department.

He was one of only 126 kakapo known to exist and had a special bond with humans because he was hand-raised without other kakapo.

"The trip went smoothly, but he will be back on Maud [Island] at the end of September."

The 15-year-old spent time at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary near Dunedin and at Zealandia in Wellington last year.

Conservation Department Kakapo Recovery Programme manager Deidre Vercoe said Maungatautari would be the only place to host Sirocco this year.

"Because of the risk predators pose to our vulnerable kakapo population, all our birds live on offshore islands.

"Kakapo Recovery hopes that, one day, when the numbers have increased, we will be able to reintroduce them to the mainland.

"Given the size of Maungatautari, and its efforts to be predator-free, it is definitely the type of site that could suit kakapo."

Sirocco will be housed in an enclosure surrounded by native forest before being returned to Maud Island.

The next wildlife event to affect the island will be the takahe breeding season which starts at the end of October.

View Sirocco jumping on the zoologist here



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- The Marlborough Express


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