The success of a scheme to reintroduce endangered parrots to the forests of the Abel Tasman National Park in the South Island by Project Janszoon augurs well for wider efforts to restore native wildlife.
When the conservation trust Project Janszoon released a dozen kākā in Abel Tasman national park at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, the large, brassy forest parrots settled in quickly, despite never before having lived in the wild. At 3am the next morning they began their customary ear-splitting calls. Hikers sleeping in a hut in Bark Bay declined an offer of earplugs from release team members who stayed overnight; snorers, they said, bothered them more than the birds.
That New Zealanders could once again live alongside these rare native creatures – and that the birds could be multitudinous enough to bother them with their chatty racket – is still something of a novelty. In urban spaces, on the fringes of cities, and even in national parks, the country has been bereft of its native birds for so long that they are beginning to feel like part of history. Half of them have gone extinct since humans arrived on New Zealand’s shores. Predators, chiefly stoats, possums, and rats, kill more than 68,000 native birds every day.