Conservationists are working to prevent further extinctions on the Hawaiian Islands.
What do you imagine when you think of the Hawaiian Islands? Do you picture beautiful beaches, lush forests, and the diverse species that have evolved there? You might not expect anyone to mention extinction or endangered species in a conversation about this world-class vacation destination.
Hawai’i might be known for more widely its beauty, but it also holds the record for the most extinct birds in the world. These island species evolved without the threat of predation by mammals. The introduction of invasive species has led to rapid declines in native birds.
Since many native birds evolved to be either flightless or had no evolutionary need to nest in trees, the ground historically made a suitable location for nesting. Once invasive rats and other predators arrived on the islands through human travel, the ground was no longer a safe place.
Today, the fate of many island birds hangs in the balance as conservationists work to restore native habitat and revive their populations. The Hawaiian goose, also known as the Nēnē, was once facing extinction; conservationists stepped in with an attempt at captive breeding which ultimately saved the species. Although the Nēnē is still listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, conservation has made a huge impact on their recovery and efforts are still in place to help them thrive.
The task of preventing extinction is daunting to any conservationist, but more and more stories of recovery are taking shape. Optimism is becoming a driving force that leads us toward a thriving natural world.
Featured photo: After 60 years of collaborative conservation efforts among federal, state, NGOs and local partners, the Hawaiian Goose, or Nēnē, is one step closer to recovery. Credit: Kim Rogers/USFWS – Pacific Region
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