Bat ‘winning by quite a lot’ in New Zealand’s Bird of the Year contest

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New Zealand’s autochthonal birds person agelong been threatened by mammalian arrivals. Now, they are being thrashed by a mammal successful the 1 arena that they mightiness person expected dominance – the country’s yearly vertebrate of the twelvemonth competition.

The election, tally by Forest and Bird, allowed a astonishment entry this twelvemonth from the pekapeka-tou-roa, oregon agelong tailed bat, 1 of New Zealand’s lone land-based autochthonal mammals. On Tuesday, Forest and Bird officials confirmed to the Guardian that the bat is winning successful existent polls by a sizeable margin.

“It’s winning overall, yeah,” said wood and vertebrate spokesperson Laura Keown. “Actually, erstwhile you look astatine the fig 1 and fig 2 rankings, it’s not winning by a little. It’s winning by rather a lot.”

Trailing the bat successful 2nd spot was the kākāpō – a large, flightless parrot and the competition’s reigning champ from past year. In 3rd spot was the kea, an alpine parrot known for its fierce quality and fondness for stealing assorted items from tourists.

Voting connected Bird of the twelvemonth closes astatine the extremity of the month, and Keown said determination was inactive clip for an upset. “It’s not a foregone conclusion, thing tin happen. But decidedly looking astatine the results, the bat is the frontrunner. It’s streaking ahead.”

New Zealand’s vertebrate of the twelvemonth contention is nary alien to controversy. In 2019, the accomplishment of hundreds of votes from Russia sparked claims of predetermination meddling. The votes were yet judged legitimate, and a Forest and Bird spokesperson said astatine the clip that involvement from Russian ornithologists whitethorn beryllium responsible. “New Zealand really shares birds with Russia,” they said astatine the time. “We person the bar-tailed godwit that makes an yearly circular trip.”

The twelvemonth before, Forest and Bird alleged that 300 fraudulent votes were formed successful the online ballot by Australians attempting to rig the contention successful favour of the shag.

Keown said voting had been beardown this year, with much than 33,700 votes formed truthful far. New Zealand’s Bird of The Year attempts to rise consciousness of immoderate of the country’s endangered wildlife. The long-tailed bat is categorised arsenic critically endangered nationwide.