It all started 14 years ago and now it has turned into a passionate election, where people of Newzealand elect their favorite native bird, the penguin, carry out campaigns for it and vote for it like a good citizen voting for actual government elections.
Why start such a competition?
Well, the Forest and Bird conservation group started this poll in order to raise awareness among the masses about their native birds, how to conserve and protect them, and well just gave NewZealand something beneficial to put their energies in.
Bird of The Year 2019 NewZealand: Yellow Eyed Penguin
This year, the winner of this competition is one of the rarest penguins in the world known as Hoihoi penguin, the yellow eyed penguin. This coveted winner broke the norm and is the first seabird to win the elections in 14 years, beating some tough rivals like the ever-favorite Kakapo and last year’s winner Kereru, considering that Hoihoi was kind of an underdog securing 12th position in 2018.
People of NewZealand do not take this lightly, they are so dedicated to campaigning that hey rent on big billboards to root for their favorite native bird with so much creativity. The process of voting is secured to ensure no fiddling is done in the count of votes.
Prime Minister of NewZealand, Ms. Jacinda Ardern, congratulated the coveted win of yellow eyed penguin in her weekly press conference for being the first seabird to win the title of Bird of the Year of NewZealand.
Hoiho, the yellow eyed Penguin
This yellow-eyed waddling penguin is an extremely antisocial species, that do not nest within sight of other penguins. Contrary to being antisocial they got their name hoiho which means “noisy” in the Maori language because they produce a high-pitched scream upon seeing their mate, this means that they are literally screamingly happy to be with each other. Adorable! Isn’t it?
Hoiho has a pale yellow band of feathers on their head, they are tall at 65 cm in height and weigh around 5kgs, mostly silent seabirds.
Why is it One of the Rarest Species of Penguins?
Unfortunately, the number of votes that hoiho got is far more than the total species existing in the world. Hoiho bagged 12,022 verified votes out of 43,4060 vote casts. Only 225 pairs of these yellow eyed penguins are left on the mainland, which is an alarming number that is going down with passing time and expected to diminish completely off of the earth’s face in 30 or so years if drastic steps are not taken by the conservation groups.
Apart from the on-going climatic changes towards the warmer side which makes it even harder for these seabirds to hunt for food and build a nest. There are a number of other reasons contributing to their extinction. These include getting trapped in nets, fighting predators like cats, rats, dogs on the land, damaging feeding grounds and interference for the worst by humans.
It is an amazing initiative taken by the Forest and Bird group to catch the attention of people of NewZealand towards the declining species of native birds and promote awareness among them in order to maintain their existence.