It is with pride that we announce that the “Saving ‘Akikiki from Extinction” team received the 2018 Recovery Champion Award for Region 1. Team members receiving this honor include KFBRP’s own, Dr. Lisa Cali Crampton and Justin Hite, but we couldn’t have done it alone. Other team members included in this award represent a talented and dedicated group of scientists and conservation specialists including:

  • Bryce Masuda, Hawaiʻi Endangered Bird Conservation Program, San Diego Zoo Global
  • Angie Ray, San Diego Zoo Global, Safari Park, Bird Department
  • Amy Klotz, formerly of San Diego Zoo Global
  • Jeremy Hodges, San Diego Zoo Global, Veterinary Services
  • Michelle Clark, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Pacific Islands Office
  • John Vetter, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Pacific Islands Office
  • Jay Nelson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Pacific Islands Office
  • Megan Laut, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Pacific Islands Office

The team was recognized for working tirelessly to prevent the extinction of the rarest forest bird on Kaua’i. This required the team to overcome many obstacles in order to successfully establish a conservation breeding population. To accomplish this, team members deployed helicopters, hiked with heavy ladders through dense forest and endured severe weather to find and collect tiny ‘akikiki eggs high in the forest canopy of the ‘Alakai. Now, with forty-five ‘akikiki raised, reared, and cared for in an intensive care setting for the first time in history, this team has accomplished monumental milestones for conservation breeding efforts for this species and set the precedent for many more.

The U.S. fish and Wildlife Service recognizes that extinction cannot be prevented by one agency alone. Recovery is defined as the process that stops the decline of threatened and endangered species. Recovery of species requires collaborative partnerships between federal agencies, private landowners, conservation organizations, and the community. These kinds of efforts are the ones that reverse species decline and bring them back from the verge of extinction. 

The team’s success was attributed to these highly-successful partnerships with the San Diego Zoo Global, Kaua’i Forest Bird Recovery Project, Hawai’i Division of Forestry and Wildlife, American Bird Conservancy, USGS, University of Hawaiʻi, Pacific Rim Conservation, Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, Airborne Aviation, Kauaʻi Invasive Species Committee, Kaua’i Agricultural Research Center, Kaua’i Watershed Alliance, The Nature Conservancy, Koke’e Resource Conservation Program, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

There was a cap on the limit of people we could name on the team nomination, but this success is the result of the hard work of dozens of dedicated biologists in addition to those officially named. These include but are not limited to: Donnie Percy Alverson, Adam Elzinga, Kyle Pias, Kayla Lee, Maria Costantini, Andy Kemerer, Elizabeth Abraham, Katie Temple, Tyler Winter, Danny Raleigh, Darin DRipp, Andrew Glaser, Mithuna Sothieson, Wesley Shinzatu, Danya, Evelyn Weber, Katie Lauck, Jacob Drucker, Roy Morris, Derek Harvey, Sarah Dobney, Sara Naval, Marcus Collado, Nicole Fernandez, Liza Olson, Erica Gallerani, Bryn M. Webber, and Becky Z-Hood. 

A big Mahalo goes out to all of those involved! But there is no sleep for the dedicated members of this team who will continue their tireless efforts to recover all species of threatened and endangered forest birds on Kaua’i.

Please visit the USFWS website to learn more about Recovery Champions.