Do some animals DESERVE to go extinct? The parrot that can’t fly, mistakes predators for mates and only wants sex every two yearsBy Julian Gavaghan
Pandas, white rhinos and mountain gorillas all have a hard time maintaining their own species through reproduction. But no creature is quite as incompetent as the kakapo.
The chubby, land-bound parrot is so uninterested – and hopeless – at mating that the native New Zealanders now number just 124.
Camouflaged: The Kakapo parrot, one of just 124, was captured amid dense scrub on a compact camera
Aside from female apathy to sex, the bungling male is unable to distinguish a suitable partner from an angry possum or other killers.
And when faced with a threat, the dim-witted creature often forgets it can’t fly and routinely ends up falling flat on its face.
Unfortunately for the kakapo, natural selection has contrived to make it difficult for them to breed.
They often live until 90 and so had to keep their population down because they only eat one thing, the fruit of the rimu tree, which comes into season only once every four years.
This was fine until foreign ships brought with them a host of predators – including rats, possums, stoats, and cats.
Bungling: Its one skill is climbing trees - yet, despite being unable to fly, it often tries to take off when at the top
In the space of a few hundred years, these invaders have decimated the kakapo population. A decade ago their numbers stood at just 30.
Efforts to help them breed have had some success. But the kakapo’s main obstacle is themselves.
Although the 8lb parrot has developed a bright green cloak of feathers that hides it among the surrounding verdant undergrowth, it has few other useful skills.
It has is very friendly and will – if you’re lucky enough to spot one - come right up to you.
Often, when alarmed, it has a habit of freezing and simply not moving.
Other times it may run up into a tree as it is an excellent climber.
Friendly: Kakapos, like this one on Codfish Island, New Zealand, will approach predators - to their peril
Unfortunately, once it reaches the top, it is liable to attempt to fly away – sometimes with tragic consequences.
At most females have an urge to have sex only once every two years, which is what leads to the potentially deadly male frustration.
Conservationists discovered that the more females are fed, the more horny they will become.
Another problem lies in the fact that the vast majority chicks are male.
Males compete for attention by crying out at the top of their voices. In dense mountainous jungle, the noises appear come from everywhere.
It can be very confusing for interested females to distinguish between them and even more so to find the horny male the like the sound of.
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