As part of its 10th birthday celebrations ARKive.org – a popular online multimedia guide to the world's endangered species – sought to find the world's top 10 favourite species, with 14,000 voters from 162 countries taking part. In an online poll featuring 50 animals from across the globe, our own kakapo took out top honours ahead of the tiger in 2nd place and African elephant 3rd.
Sirocco the kakapo has been pivotal in bringing attention to the plight of his species, and for gaining global awareness.
Kakapo Recovery programme mngr Deidre Vercoe says the most pleasing aspect of the poll is that voters are most concerned about the need to protect the species from extinction: "It's become increasingly apparent that kakapo are treasured worldwide. It would be wonderful to reach a stage when all kids throughout the world know what a kakapo is, like they do a tiger."
The kakapo's first real introduction to the world stage was through the BBC documentary Last Chance to See - remember those scenes of Sirocco trying to 'mate' with the presenter's head? As a result of that, Sirocco shot to fame. He's now the official 'spokesbird' for conservation, goes on annual display as the ambassador for Kakapo Recovery and has more than 20,000 fans online.
The current kakapo population is 124, up from a low of 51 in 1995. There's been no breeding during the past two summers because of poor rimu crops, but the team predict a small breeding season for early 2014. The flightless birds rely on a good rimu fruiting season to trigger breeding. The long-term recovery goal is to have 150 females at three separate sites, one of which is self-sustaining.