HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The populations of two bird species native to Maui are in steep decline ― and face extinction if something isn’t done to save them, experts say.
The warning comes in the wake of a new interagency monitoring report that found there are just 312 kiwikiu (Maui parrotbill) and fewer than 2,411 akohekohe (crested honeycreepers) left in the wild.
Those figures are 50% lower than previous estimates.
“Without intervention, these changes are projected to cause population decline and additional extinction of the remaining Hawaiian forest birds,” Hannah Mounce, of the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project, said in a news release.
Over the last several decades, studies have found that these two birds’ populations have declined because of a number of threats, including disease and habitat degradation.
“It is urgent that we move forward with the recovery efforts for these species. If we wait for much longer, we will not have these species left to save,” Mounce said.
The Maui Forest Bird Working Group is planning to reintroduce the kiwikiu in the leeward region of Maui in hopes of boosting the endangered species’ numbers.
The first place where they’ll be released will be the Nakula Natural Area Reserve in the fall.
There have been more than 200,000 native plants planted in the Nakula Forest Reserve and the Kahikinui Forest Reserve since 2013 in preparation for the reintroduction.