I Heart Indies

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Remember The Kakapo

I owe this concept to my nephew Luke, so blame him.

About a million years ago, some parrots were blown in by storm to New Zealand and found themselves in a veritable paradise, parrot-wise.  No predators, great climate, plenty of things parrots like to eat.  Their world was ideal and contained no problems they weren't perfectly suited to dealing with.

Over the course of time, they evolved into Kakapos, which means something like "Owl Parrot" or "Night Parrot."  They are bigger than the biggest parrot you ever saw in your nightmares of parrot attack, but are extremely gentle and have remarkably soft, fur-like feathers.  They are flightless, nocturnal, and ground-dwelling.  They make a series of calls, including a loud shriek with which they announce their location to others, and they also have a pleasant and distinctive smell, described as "musty."

The calls and the fragrance have proven particularly helpful in locating Kakapos for rats and other predators introduced by Europeans, which is why the Kakapo is now critically endangered, down to such a small population, most of the individuals have been given names.

So here's the thing - and I don't wish to blame the victim here because how could anyone wish to blame a five-pound flightless parrot with a pleasant smell - the Kakapo had arrived in what was to them a Kakapo Heaven and they had lost all those pesky attributes - flight, fear, the ability and instinct to conceal oneself - that come in so handy for other species around the world.  So when Captain Cook arrived with a ship full of sailors and hungry rats, the Kakapo were push-overs.  (Parenthetically, any indigenous species has reason to be concerned when a ship's captain is named Cook.)  I'm not trying to let humans off the hook here, I'm just saying that the Kakapos, like the Dodos, were particularly vulnerable because theretofore their island home had been so perfect.

We might wish to live in paradise, we seek it out, and try to make our world approximate it as closely as possible.  We avoid stress, we don't want it, and we don't like it.  But maybe, after all, we need it.  Maybe we aren't suited to paradise, not that we'd mind living in it, it would just backfire horribly in the long run.
So the next time things are going hunky-dory, and then the Spectre of Doom comes in and lobs a stinker, be grateful it happened sooner rather than later.  Too much of a good thing is too much.  Remember the Kakapo.

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