The Hawaiian Islands are home to bird species that are found nowhere else on the planet, exhibiting an astonishing array of adaptations to life in their unique habitats. Unfortunately, many Hawaiian birds are now critically endangered or already extinct, and the Hawaiian crow or ‘alala (Corvus hawaiiensis)’ is acknowledged as one of the most globally threatened species. By 2002, the last known wild ’alala disappeared, and the species was considered extinct in the wild and absent from its pivotal role as native seed disperser in the Hawaiian forest.
Today, through the efforts of San Diego Zoo Global and its partners in the ’Alala Restoration Working Group, the ‘alala is making a remarkable recovery. Their mission is to establish self-sustaining populations of birds in the wild using captive propagation and reintroduction, and the success of the ‘alala captive breeding program has paved the way for a coordinated release effort. Mataki devices will be used to monitor ‘alala that will be reintroduced back into the wild, where they have not been seen or heard for decades. Birds will be tracked in their native Hawaiian forest habitat to obtain vital information on ‘alala movements, social behaviors, habitat use and survivability. Results will provide much-needed ecological information to inform and enhance ‘alala conservation efforts.
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