WELLINGTON, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- The population of New Zealand's critically endangered flightless parrots, kakapo, have increased from 197 to 252 in the 2022 breeding season.
"There are now more of the endangered parrots than there have been for almost 50 years," Conservation Minister Poto Williams said in a statement on Tuesday.
The flightless, nocturnal parrot is a species unique to New Zealand. They breed only every two to four years when the island country's rimu trees, or "red pine", produce enough fruit.
During breeding seasons, the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Ngai Tahu, the principal Maori tribe of the South Island, aim to have as many kakapo chicks raised in nests as possible. They only intervene with hand-rearing when chicks are at risk.
This season 49 were raised in the nest and six were fully hand reared, Williams said, adding that the 55 chicks were added to the official population only when they reached 150 days old.
"The chicks generally get themselves in to high-risk situations, and occasionally need to be rescued from clumsy episodes, such as getting stuck in mud or getting their legs caught in trees," she said, adding that this has been the second biggest breeding season, leading to the highest number of birds since the 1970s.
The vision for kakapo is to grow their numbers and ensure they can live freely in a natural environment, said the minister. ■