One of Hawaii’s most endangered birds is finally going to receive the protection it desperately needs.
The ‘i’iwi, or scarlet honeycreeper, was once considered one of the most common forest birds in Hawaii, who could be found across all of the major islands. Sadly, they have virtually disappeared from the islands of Lanai, Oahu, Molokai and west Maui, while the population on Kauai is rapidly declining.
Now, 90 percent of their population exists only on East Maui and Hawaii Island (Big Island) at elevations between 4,265 and 6,234 feet.
Back in 2010, the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned authorities to list them as “threatened”under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). And now the FWS has announced that the ‘i’iwi will be listed as”threatened” — bringing hope that the species will not be wiped out.
Although these striking birds face a number of threats, one of their biggest problems today is the spread of disease that’s being exacerbated by climate change. Avian malaria and avian pox, which are spread by invasive mosquitoes, have devastated Hawaii’s native forest birds, who have little to no resistance to these diseases. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), avian malaria kills approximately 95 percent of ‘i’iwi who are infected, and the problem is only expected to get worse.
“‘I’iwi have virtually disappeared from any habitat where mosquitoes are found,” said Mary Abrams, project leader for the FWS’s Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office. “This has caused their range to shrink dramatically – they are almost entirely limited to higher elevation ‘ohi’a forests for their habitat, dietary, and nesting needs.”
The ‘i’iwi still have some refuge in higher elevations, where it’s too cold for mosquitoes, but these birds travel widely in search of food, and scientists have raised concerns that as the climate gets warmer and wetter, mosquitoes will be moving up into areas that are currently considered safe, further restricting their already limited range. Even more concerning is that the ‘ohi’a forests these birds rely on are suffering from a deadly disease themselves that’s wiping out trees.
“In recent years, the ‘i’iwi population has been in sharp decline, due to threats from habitat loss, invasive species and avian diseases, particularly avian malaria,” said Abrams. “These threats have affected all forest birds, not just the ‘i’iwi. Conservation that benefits the ‘i’iwi will undoubtedly benefit other Hawaiian forest birds.”
The listing will be official on October 20, and will first lead to the development of a recovery plan, which will hopefully be followed by other measures that will restore and protect their habitat, reduce other threats, and stop the spread of diseases.
“Working with the state, our conservation partners and the public will be crucial as we work to recover the ‘i’iwi,” added Abrams. “The Service is committed to building on our record of collaborative conservation to protect Hawaii’s native species.”
This article was first published by Care2.com on 28 Sep 2017.
Share this post with your friends
You may also like:
Top-Viewed Posts Last 30 Days
- POLL: Should Trump’s elephant trophy hunting plan be stopped? – [1177 Views]
- POLL: Should Dolphinariums As Tourist Attractions Be Closed Down? – [1111 Views]
- POLL: Should big-game and canned, trophy hunting be banned? – [1015 Views]
- POLL: Should babies be allowed to buy hunting licenses? – [941 Views]
- POLL: Should wild horses be protected from roundups and slaughter? – [889 Views]
- POLL: Should Wildlife Services stop its secret wildlife-killing program? – [823 Views]
- POLL: Should South Africa strictly enforce its anti-poaching legislation? – [811 Views]
- Florida Opened a Fake Alligator Farm to Catch Poachers – [806 Views]
- POLL: Should African Grey Parrots be protected from illegal trafficking? – [786 Views]
- POLL: Should gillnets be banned in the Upper Gulf to save the Vaquita? – [778 Views]
Top-Viewed Posts Last 12 Months
- POLL: Should hunting with hounds be banned? – [7663 Views]
- Gray Squirrels versus Red Squirrels – The Facts [5926 Views]
- POLL: Should the trophy hunting of bears and wolves be banned? – [3810 Views]
- POLL: Should foxes be culled to protect domestic pets? [3799 Views]
- POLL: Should there be a worldwide ban on fur farming? – [3648 Views]
- POLL: Should the slaughter of badgers in the UK be finally stopped? – [3065 Views]
- POLL: Should the cruel sport of bullfighting be banned? [2873 Views]
- POLL: Should Canada ban the hunting of seals? [2667 Views]
- POLL: Should the Tories be allowed to bring back fox hunting? [2578 Views]
- POLL: Should wild elephants be sold to Chinese zoos? [2322 Views]