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Critically endangered kākāpo dying from fungal disease

Critically endangered kākāpo are being killed by fungal disease, Aspergillosis.

During the weekend, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage went to Whenua Hou Island to help tackle the problem which has already infected 38 birds - more than 20 per cent of the species.

Seven kākāpo have died since April - the most recent of which was this week.

Conservation staff still don't know what's caused the outbreak but are analysing whether climate change is producing more of the fungus.

There are just 142 kākāpo living on two predator free Islands in New Zealand – Whenua Hou and Anchor Island.

"The amount of care is similar to a parent with a child, so it's been a series of ups and downs with Aspergillosis but there's a huge network of support," says Ms Sage.

The outbreak comes after the best kākāpo breeding season on record, with 86 chicks hatched.

"That's a huge number for us," Kakapo Operations Manager Deirdre Vercoe said. "Previous breeding seasons, the most we've ever had has been in the low 30s."

But inbreeding is high and the lack of genetic diversity could also explain the outbreak.

However, with nine kākāpo declared disease-free, it's sparked hopes the island’s treasured population can be saved.

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Seven kākāpo have died since April - the most recent was this week. Source: 1 NEWS