The kakapo parrot is one of the most endangered species in the world.
There are currently fewer than 200 of the flightless birds from New Zealand on the planet. That’s a big problem, especially when you consider that (surprise, surprise) human beings are largely responsible for their dwindling population.
Hundreds of years ago, humans hunted them for their skin and feathers. In the 1800s, land clearance and the introduction of mammalian predators (like dogs) in New Zealand further reduced their ability to survive.
For decades, scientists have exhausted their options trying to bring the kakapo population back from the brink. They’ve tried everything.
And when I say everything, I mean everything. Including a “sperm helmet” that scientists wore on their heads to collect semen samples after they noticed the kakapos would routinely try to mate with people’s heads.
Needless to say, it didn’t work.
In 2016, though, things are actually looking up for the little birds, as an incredible 33 kakapo chicks were recently born in New Zealand.
Incredibly, the kakapos made it happen all on their own, no sperm helmets needed. Thanks to the conservation efforts of the last several decades, the birds just had a very successful mating season.
They look as terrifying, as baby birds usually do (is it just me?), but their birth represents a huge win for conservation efforts that have been going on since at least 1891.
Protecting endangered species is important for many reasons.
Like biodiversity, balancing ecosystems, and even climate change. It isn’t always easy, and it doesn’t always work — hell, just think of the poor guy who had to test out the ill-fated sperm helmet.
When it works out though, it’s a big win for the world.