A single piece of excrement, just over an inch long, has sparked a major alert in New Zealand. The reason:- It could be rat poo. And:- it was found on Codfish Island.
Codfish Island is one of three islands where Kakapo survive in the wild, holding the majority of the 154 animals left alive. The Kakapo is a large flightless parrot that has been driven to the verge of extinction by introduced predators, including rats. These three islands are, or at least were thought to be , and were intended to be, predator free.
There is a rather brutal view that the Kakapo is the avian version of the Giant Panda. Which is to say that it seems to have a kind of evolutionary death wish, so spectacularly ill-suited is it for survival. If there were Darwin Awards for animals, these would be two contenders. However; they are important both in their own right, and as indicators for the ecosystems they live in, and as indicators of mankind’s will and ability to conserve the precious genetic diversity of planet earth.
There is a vision of making New Zealand “predator-free” by 2020. What chance of that happening, if we cannot even keep codfish island predator-free? Maybe we can take some comfort from the fact that in New Zealand an inch of possible rat poo is newsworthy.