Wild Sould

Kauai’s Forest Birds Featured in a new Book Titled: Wild Souls: Freedom and Flourishing in the Non-Human World

Wild SouldWild Souls: Freedom and Flourishing in the Non-Human World, a new book with a groundbreaking and provocative vision for our relationships with–and responsibilities toward–the planet’s wild animals by acclaimed environmental writer, Emma Marris, is now available on Amazon.

Protecting wild animals and preserving the environment are two ideals so seemingly compatible as to be almost inseparable. But in fact, between animal welfare and conservation science there exists a space of underexamined and unresolved tension: wildness itself. When is it right to capture or feed wild animals for the good of their species? How do we balance the rights of introduced species with those already established within an ecosystem? Can hunting be ecological? Are any animals truly wild on a planet that humans have so thoroughly changed? No clear guidelines yet exist to help us resolve such questions.

Transporting readers into the field with scientists tackling these profound challenges, Emma Marris tells the affecting and inspiring stories of animals around the globe–from Peruvian monkeys to Australian bilbies, rare Hawai’ian birds to majestic Oregon wolves. And she offers a companionable tour of the philosophical ideas that may steer our search for sustainability and justice in the non-human world. Revealing just how intertwined animal life and human life really are, Wild Souls will change the way we think about nature-and our place within it.

KFBRP Scientists are transported to the Alaka’i Plateau by Helicopter

And just who are these scientists that transport the readers (and the author) into the field? They are not just fabrications of fiction writing. In the chapter titled, “The Flight of the ‘Akikiki”, a small curly haired woman emerges from a car and hands off a flight suit to the author. That scientist is none other than KFBRP’s leader, Lisa “Cali” Crampton. Her mission: saving Kauai’s Forest Birds from the “abyss of extinction”. The readers are then transported by means of a red helicopter lacking doors into the depths of the Alaka’i.

It is significant to note that the author was inspired to include a whole chapter dedicated to plight of Hawaiian forest birds, some of which may face imminent extinction. She contrasts a time when Hawaiians trapped the birds to fashion feather cloaks for royalty. Some may speculate that this act alone contributed to the demise of these species, but the fact is that the Hawaiian understood nature in a way where they could interact with the birds in a sustainable manner, taking only 2 or 3 feathers before releasing the birds back into their habitat. This concept is largely forgotten today. Hawaiians recognized the value of each species and its role in the overall health of the environment. This is how the scientists at KFBRP view the species as well, each with an important role maintaining the balance within the forest ecosystem.

If you care about animals and nature, this book will provide you with a new perspective on nature and its wild souls.

Emma Marris & Lisa "Cali" Crampton

Lisa “Cali” Crampton in the field with Emma Marris, author of Wild Souls

Saving ‘Akikiki from “Egg-stiction”

high water in the Alakai

Notes from the Field: Heavy rain in one of the wettest places on earth

Alakai volunteersBy Doug Marcum

The Alaka’i Plateau, which sits on top of Kaua’i, is one of the wettest places on earth.  On the eastern end of the plateau, near the summit of the island, Mt. Wai’ale’ale receives an average of 450 inches of rain per year.  The Hawaiian name roughly translates to “overflowing water”, which is a scenario that occurs frequently across this montane rainforest.  

The wettest place got wetter in an extreme rain event that occurred during one of my recent trips to our main bird camp back in mid-April.  My girlfriend, Kelsey, came out to help as a volunteer, and she and I were busy following a recently radio-tagged Akeke’e the day before the big storm came (if you’re serious about bird conservation and can handle working hard in tough terrain, contact us about volunteer opportunities!).  From the shelter of the camp Weatherport we listened to thunder and heavy rain all night as lightning lit up the scene.  We sure were thankful for camp that night!  According to co-workers who have been around much longer than I, the Alaka’i doesn’t see much in the way of thunderstorms, so I knew that this was a rare event.  

At 4:30 AM I decided to run outside to look at the stream near camp and found it to be raging in a way that I am certain that no one else has ever seen!!  Illuminating the darkness of the night and storm with my headlamp, I could see the water rushing by at frightening speeds, carrying anything away in its path.  On my very first trip to the Alaka’i, we had had heavy rains and the seasoned members of the crew said that they have never seen the stream so high.  Well, on the early morning of April 15th, the stream was much higher.  It was to the point where if it had risen just a few more inches, our deck would have been sitting in the main channel of running water!  Although it looked frightening, I knew that we were safe where we were in the headwaters of this stream, and higher ground isn’t hard to find from camp.  I was able to go back to sleep that night and by 9:30 AM the stream had settled down to the point where Kelsey and I crossed it to do more work that day.  

Many of the streams in Kaua’i can be very “flashy”, meaning that they rise fast during rain events, but also can lower just as quickly.  Down in the lowlands, however, the water that collected all over the mountain had combined and found its way through the main drainages to the ocean and caused historic damage, especially to the famous north shore of the island.  Twenty-seven inches of rain over 24 hours were measured near Hanalei during this record-breaking storm, and the island is still recovering.  Severe weather events and disasters can be catastrophic for critically-endangered species since population levels are so low, but thankfully the individual birds that we track endured the storm and bird camp survives.  Some Kaua’i forest bird species were never seen again after hurricane Iniki leveled much of the forest on the plateau back in 1992.  These kind of disasters are one of the many threats we address in efforts to protect these birds.  For now, species like the ‘Akikiki, ‘Akeke’e, and Puaiohi  are still hanging on in Kauai’s high-plateau wilderness, and I hope that it continues this way.