When does a bat stop becoming a bat? Apparently, when it is New Zealand is Bird of the Year, the long-tailed bat, pekapeka-tou-roa (Chalinolobus tuberculatus), added to the list of hopeful competitors this year, causing controversy.
While some called its inclusion an “outrage,” others backed #TeamBat wholeheartedly. Despite the fact that it is not a bird, the pekapeka-tou-roa triumphed and was named “Bird” of the Year 2021.
The pekapeka is one of just two land mammals endemic to New Zealand, both bats, and is one of the world’s rarest animals. Since then, non-native animal species such as rats, possums, and ferrets have been introduced to the nation, posing a serious danger to New Zealand’s ground-nesting birds. The pekapeka makes up for its lack of bird ancestry with its struggle, since it is extremely endangered, like many of New Zealand’s native winged species. With habitat degradation and introduced predators posing a serious danger to the pekapeka-tou-roa, it is about time the species received some worldwide attention.
The website of New Zealand’s Te Manu Rongonui o Te Tau, Bird of the Year, states, “This is the first time New Zealand’s sole land mammal has been featured in Bird of the Year, and it has flown away with the title.” “Predators, habitat loss, and climate change are all threats to these flying furballs, just as they are to our native birds.” The more we do to preserve them, the more their feathery companions benefit, and vice versa.” Candidates listed on the Bird of the Year website with their statuses, which include “doing OK,” “in some difficulties,” and “insignificant trouble.” The pekapeka, along with some of New Zealand’s most charismatic animals including the great spotted kiwi, kkp, and rockhopper penguin, falls into the latter group.
Campaign manager Peter Wills gave a stirring speech in support of the Pekarek’s bid for Bird of the Year, describing the bat as this year’s “underbird” and laying out his case for a mammal obtaining the title in 2021.
Wills stated, “Pekapeka are more bird-like than want to birds in this competition.” “I may ruffle some feathers by saying this, but can any of our flagship species fly?” Pekapeka has earned the title of manu. We believe in the underbird in New Zealand. We have faith in the tiniest of flies.
We think that your background should not decide your future. It’s up to you, Pekapeka-tou-roa, to rise up and expand our understanding of many. “Koia nei te houanga o pekapeka-tou-roa!” says the narrator.