Making Kaena Point Safe for Native Hawaiian Species

Ati Jeffers-Fabro
Ati Jeffers-Fabro
Lindsay Young
Lindsay Young
Victoria Lyman
Victoria Lyman

KAENA POINT (KHNL) -- Kaena Point is Oahu's most westerly chunk of land and home to albatross, shearwaters and dozens of endangered and rare plants. But predators, including people have damaged a lot of what this area offers.

Kaena Point is where the Waianae mountain range meets both north and leeward shores. It's rich with wildlife from the ground where the ohai plant can flourish, to the sea where the fishing is plentiful and the air, where the laysan albatross soars above its nesting area below. Kaena Point is for all to see.

"I can't think of any other area that is so easliy accesable on the island and such a large area that provides such a variety of eco-systems," said Victoria Lyman with Friends of Kaena Point.

Among the culprits are mongoose, feral cats and dogs. The solution could be as simple as putting up a barrier around isolated areas of Kaena Point. This piece of predatory proof fence is planned for installation in 2009. It will be 700 yards long and last 15 to 25 years. A similar fence was successfully used in New Zealand.

"This rolled hood prevents animals from climbing, and then jumping the fence, they can't get over this hood," said Ati Jeffers-Fabro of the Eco-System Restoration Project

Not even rats or mice can get through it. They pose a huge threat to the more than 11 endangered plants at Kaena Point.

"If we're able to get rid of the rodents which eat their seeds and prevent the keiki from coming up, these plants would be able to recover without us constantly having to grow them," said researcher Lindsay Young.

The biggest threat to Kaena Point doesn't have four legs. It has two legs and arrives on four wheels.

"We're kind of their number one worst enemy unfortunately."

"We have bigger cars, more off-roaders more people using it and less education in the schools to tell people how to protect the aina."

The nutrients that enrich the soil here comes from sea birds. It would take one single dog, one single day to wipe out an entire colony of albatross. One person keeping watch over the point could make a big difference in preserving it.

"If we had just one person out here to be an ambassador like we did for a few years to tell people to take care of it we probably would have spent less money over the past few years and it's going to take to get back together."

With cooperation from visitors, locals and government agencies, Kaena can once again become a safe haven for Native Hawaiian species that cannot survive anywhere else.

Members of the "Friends of Kaena Point" hope to build a center for educating school groups, local residents and visitors about protecting the area.