Saving the Kakapo parrot

Endangered bird in New Zealand has a fighting chance thanks to a rescue programme

The Kakapo is the world's rarest, heaviest and only flightless parrot, with only 93 in existence today. Found in New Zealand, the parrot has an average life expectancy of 90 years, but breeding is slow, often taking two to four years, depending on key food supplies.

Since 1990, more than $3 million NZD has been donated to the rescue effort. Rio Tinto Aluminium is the major shareholder of New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Limited (NZAS) and in 2004, NZAS entered into an active partnership with New Zealand's Department of Conservation. Employees quickly became involved, working alongside a dedicated group of conservationists to help the Kakapo.

This year was special, with the arrival of six Kakapo chicks. The young parrots were hand-fed by the rescue team and residents were given a rare opportunity to see and learn about the critically endangered species.

Hopes are high for a more successful breeding season next year, with potentially up to 40 chicks being produced - a nearly  50 per cent increase in the world Kakapo population in one year. To date, more than 60 NZAS employees have volunteered their time to help with the Kakapo Recovery Programme, and everyone who has spent time with the birds has come back with many amazing memories.