Mark Carwardine was until recently probably best known for Last Chance to See, a book (and accompanying BBC radio series) he co-authored with the late Douglas Adams, in which he and the best-selling author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy traveled in search of endangered wildlife across the globe.
Plans for a TV version fell through with Adams’ untimely death; but twenty years later, Carwardine and Adams’ friend, the comedian and actor Stephen Fry, have revisited the sites and species featured in the original book for a series currently airing on the BBC.
One of the highlights was a visit to New Zealand in search of the critically endangered kakapo, which Adams described as “the world’s largest, fattest, and least-able-to-fly parrot.” When Adams and Carwardine wrote about this flightless bird in 1989, just 40 remained and its extinction seemed certain. Following the institution of a Kakapo Recovery Plan, the species’ numbers have swelled to more than 90 – still dangerously low, but clearly trending in the right direction.
For all this, the aspect of the program that has started to go viral is a segment that ensures that, for all the thousands of words he has written about wildlife, for all the attention he and Fry (and Adams) have brought to endangered species, Mark Carwardine will now forever be known for, in Fry’s words, “being shagged by a rare parrot.”