Kauai bird recovery project seeks to eradicate bird illness in the islands

Updated: Mar. 14, 2018 at 8:42 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now/file)
(Image: Hawaii News Now/file)
(Image: Hawaii News Now/file)
(Image: Hawaii News Now/file)

KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project is gearing up in the fight against avian malaria.

In an effort to preserve Kauai's dwindling bird population, the bird recovery group is raising money to support teams that plan to ride Kauai's forests of malaria-spreading mosquitoes.

The "Save Kauai's Spectacular Birds from Avian Malaria" campaign, nicknamed "Save a Bird, Swat a Skeeter" will send out bird researchers to monitor birds, as well as find and eliminate local mosquito populations.

Avian malaria is a mosquito-born disease that is infecting the health of rare Hawaiian Honeycreepers on Kauai.

Three endangered forest bird species on Kauai are at risk of imminent extinction. There are now less than 500 Akikiki and the Puaiohi and the ?Akeke'e are also highly vulnerable, with less than 1,000 of the birds left left. The 'Akeke'e population has dropped by more than 90 percent in the last 10 years.

The bird recovery project and its partners plan to halt these trends by stamping out avian malaria, which is the single biggest threat to these species.

"To combat avian malaria, we need to know how many birds are infected and where the mosquito populations are breeding," said Lisa Crampton, project coordinator for the Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project, in a news release.

"That requires sending our teams into remote and challenging mountainous areas to monitor birds, as well as locating and eliminating mosquitos and their larvae as we encounter them."

The group is asking for public support for the fundraising for their campaign. Their goal is to raise $50,000 by the end of May.

"The funds donated will help us in our fight to save some of our rarest and most charismatic forest birds on Kauai," Crampton said. "And we must succeed; these birds are critical for forest ecosystems, as they disperse seeds of plants which will otherwise go extinct."

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