David Y. Ige | DLNR News Release – Carrot named “Akikiki” rescued

DLNR News Release – Carrot named “Akikiki” rescued

Posted on September 2, 2022 in Latest Departmental News, Newsroom

(LIHUE) – This morning an endangered “akikiki” received the VIP treatment by helicopter from a valley deep in the Alakai Plateau to safety at the Maui Bird Conservation Center (MBCC).

Erika, the ‘akikiki chick’s father, named Carrot because of the orange leg band, was brought into human care last December. Over the past ten days, a field team of five has set up mist nets and used sound lures to attract Carrot and another bird that is its offspring. They are believed to be the last remaining “akikiki” in an area called Halehaha. Although the team sees a Carrot offspring named Abby (believed to be male), they are unable to capture her.

Dr. Lisa “Cali” Crampton leads the Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project (KFBRP). Asked whether it would be successful to remove a bird from its wild habitat to protect it from deadly avian malaria, he replied: “Of course! Even when these birds were more numerous, they were difficult to catch, especially at this time of the year when they do not actively defend territories and do not respond to playback because they are not breeding. Kudos to the team for getting one of the two men we targeted.”

Akikiki, a native honeycreeper found only on Kauai, has experienced a dangerous decline as it migrates into the areas of malaria-carrying mosquitoes, killing them one by one.

Crampton said: “It’s also important to note that there are only 40 birds left in the wild, and every bird we can safely bring into captivity to protect them from avian malaria will give the species a better chance of avoiding extinction. The carrot is particularly important because it has breeding experience, so I hope he can teach the captive born akikiki some valuable behaviors.”

The field team captured Carrot along with KFBRP staff members Justin Hite and Tyler Winter, Sonia Vallochia of the Maui Forest Bird Restoration Project, Cara Thow of the DLNR/PCSU Hawaii Island Avian Disease Program, and bird care specialist Peter Luscomb. the final hours of a week-and-a-half long search-and-rescue mission.

Just after dawn, Air-Naval Aviation pilot Chris Currier descended on the field camp to retrieve the bird, which had been held overnight, and to travel by helicopter to Maui in a custom-made box. Currier said it was a real honor to be a part of the effort to save the “akikiki” from extinction in the wild.

At Maui’s Kahului Airport, Jennifer Pribble and Brenden Scott with MBCC, managed by the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (SDZWA), set out to meet Courier and take Koki to the Olinda facility. He becomes the 37th safe akikiki to stay there, as a large collection of agencies and organizations fight plans to introduce unsuitable male mosquitoes into critical forest bird habitats to suppress mosquito populations and turn back the clock on extinction.

At MBBC, Kok was given fluids, food and antiviral medication. He underwent a thorough examination before going into quarantine for the next 30 days.

How did Root, Erika and Abby survive when all the other Halehaha ‘akikiki disappeared? “It could be partly luck of the draw,” Crampton said, “like how some people are still avoiding COVID despite how widespread it is. It’s possible that their area that spans a few ridges gets a little more wind and so the mosquitoes “Or maybe they got avian malaria but were lucky enough to get a moderate dose and survived.”

Saving the carrot is great news, but other birds are tempered by the knowledge that the species has a good chance of becoming extinct in the wild within a year before it is saved.

“We are very excited and humbled to have the opportunity to save the last few ‘akikiki’ from certain death in the wild and prevent the species from becoming completely extinct. This decision was not easy to make; we prefer to release species into the wild whenever possible. But the disappearance of the once-largest Halehaha population doesn’t bode well for the remaining birds, and so the best course of action at this point is to keep them in captivity until mosquitoes and avian malaria are under control. in the landscape over the next few years. Once the disease threat is eliminated, we plan to release the “akikiki” back into the wild. So it’s a temporary situation,” Crampton explained.

Next spring, a partnership of KFBRP, SDZWA, US Fish and Wildlife Service, DLNR Division of Forests and Wildlife, Pacific Bird Conservancy and other partners hopes to conduct a massive “akikiki” search-and-rescue mission to bring back the last wild birds and birds. they send their eggs to safe places.

Crampton said, “It’s an exciting moment because we’ve reached our goal, but also a very sad moment. I lay awake last night thinking about “akikiki” Abby staying in Halehaha, wondering what would happen, if we would ever see her again, if we would ever have another chance to catch her., trying to imagine Halehaha without her. akikiki.”

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(All images/video courtesy: DLNR)

HD Video – Root “akikiki” rescued (September 2, 2022):

Photos – Kok’s akikiki is rescued (September 2, 2022):


Media contact:

Dan Dennison

Senior Communications Manager

(808) 587-0396

[email protected]

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