HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - What used to be collected by the thousands for their beautiful shells, native Oahu tree snails were reduced to endangered numbers in recent years.
Brenden Holland from the University of Hawaii Rare Snail Conservation Lab led the effort to rescue the snail. "We came in on an emergency effort we collected all of the native snails, brought them to my facility and kept them safe." Holland said.
Safe from what has been a critical rise in the counts of invasive predators including Jackson's Chamleons.
Other dangers include rats but the biggest danger to the snails have been their own kind. An invasive species in particular known as the Cannibal Rosy Wolf Snail.
After a two year quarantine period one species known as the Kahuli tree snail is ready to go back into the wild.
High in the Waianae mountain range a new home for the snails has been constructed.
The Oahu Army Natural Resources Program say they spent over 3000 manhours building a basketball-court sized exclosure. It is designed to protect the endangered snails from becoming prey. It includes a non-lethal electrical barrier.
Two weeks ago the first group was released. It consisted of the original snails that had been collected two years ago.
Today marked the release of the baby snails born in captivity. This will be their first experience in a natural wild environment.
"This is a really special day for us. It's the culmination of a really awesome collaboration between several government entities." Holland happily expressed.
The snails will be looked after for several months and as for the other remaining native snail species they are busy working on more protected exclosures throughout the island.