Holohil Systems Ltd. supplies the wildlife research community with state-of-the-art radio-tracking equipment and related services. They also support endangered species research and educational work by offering grants to research projects that are of high value for their species, have a sound research design, and have a positive conservation intention. The Holohil Grant Program offers transmitters to grant recipients at a reduced (or no) cost.

KFBRP is their 1st Quarter Grant Winner! KFBRP will use the radio transmitters as described below. Mahalo to Holohil Systems Ltd. for this opportunity! Read more below or check us out on the Holohil Systems website!

“A Safe Harbor for ʻAkekeʻe – Operation Translocation”

The biggest threat to ‘Akeke’e is introduced avian malaria. Global warming allows disease-carrying mosquitos to survive at higher elevations, the final refuge for forest birds. This threat cannot yet be addressed at a landscape level in Kauaʻi, given its low elevation; thus they are exposed most of the year to this disease. Translocation to the higher elevations of Maui or Hawaii islands (where mosquitos and malaria cannot exist) is therefore critical to protect the species.

For a successful translocation, KFBRP needs to better understand ʻAkekeʻe ecology. The only way to do this is through radio-telemetry, as ‘Akeke’e are extremely difficult to locate, follow and observe in the high canopy of our sites, which have challenging terrain. Telemetry provides fine detail about biological requirements such as nesting and feeding sites, behavior, habitat use, landscape-level movements, and will allow us to assess food availability and possible diet overlap with Maui and Hawaii birds present at potential translocation sites. This project forms part of a larger telemetry study on Kauaʻi’s endangered forest bird species that uses eight telemetry towers with data loggers to track birds 24/7 across the Plateau’s many ridges and valleys that are impossible for humans to scale on foot as quickly as birds fly.

In May and June 2019, we will target mistnet ‘Akeke’e using playback, because ‘Akeke’e are rare and difficult to capture. We will attach radiotransmitters to ~10 ‘Akeke’e and use telemetry data to document habitat use, movements, and dispersal. Telemetry data will be correlated with LiDAR and other habitat and environmental data, greatly increasing the knowledge needed to successfully plan a translocation to help save this imperiled species.