By Caroline Brooks, Communications Intern
In October, 26 individuals will get to experience the Big Island from a fresh perspective on American Forests’ Hawaiʻi Wild Forestscape. On this excursion, we will visit several natural Hawaiian wonders and meet with local officials who will explain the threats surrounding these plants and animals in addition to the measures being taken to protect them.
At the Hawaiʻi Endangered Bird Conservation Program, our group will be introduced to several threatened aviary species that rely on these forests for survival. One of the species we will meet is the Hawaiian crow (Corvus hawaiiensis). Known to Islanders as ʻalalā, this bird is critically endangered. Over time, hunting, habitat destruction and disease have killed virtually all of the Hawaiian crow population; the bird has not been spotted in the wild since 2002.
The San Diego Zoo opened the conservation site on the island two decades ago to protect and restore endangered birds. The program has worked to recover the population in hopes of reestablishing the ʻalalā in the wild.
Since 1993, the program had released 27 Hawaiian crows into the wild. However, by 1999, 21 of these birds were reported missing or dead due to disease and predators. The six birds that had not met such a fate were brought back to the program, where they will remain until the conditions improve for the ʻalalā.
Fortunately, things are looking promising for a future attempt at reintroducing the species to the wild. To fulfill this ambition, the Hawaiʻi Endangered Bird Conservation Program hatches Hawaiian crow chicks annually. In 2011, their population totaled 95, thanks to the addition of 19 chicks. The goal of the program is to release 400 Hawaiian crows into the wild — enough to remove the bird from the endangered species list.
To see this rare, endangered bird and the one-of-a-kind forests it calls home, join us in October. Special rates are now available for the final spots on the trip. We hope to see you there!
Read about some of the other plants and animals that we will encounter on Hawaiʻi Wild:
- Hawaiʻi Wild Part One: A young state with an ancient history — American Forests’ upcoming Forestscape adventure will introduce guests to the diverse species that once lived in abundance under the Island’s spacious skies as well as to the valiant efforts to protect them from invasive, destructive forces.
- Hawaiʻi Wild Part Three: King koa — A dwindling koa tree population has compelled various reforestation groups to action.
- Hawaiʻi Wild Part Four: National park loyal to native wonders — Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is intent in its duty to restore endangered plant and animal species so they can freely roam the land that they call home.