“Save a Bird, Swat a Skeeter” is the nickname of a new crowdfunding campaign to battle the spread of avian malaria in native forest birds on Kauai.
The Kaua‘i Forest Bird Recovery Project is seeking to raise $50,000 to support the “Swat Team” that monitors the birds and conducts search-and-destroy missions against mosquito populations.
According to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, the introduced, mosquito-borne disease is wreaking havoc among rare Hawaiian honeycreepers. Since they evolved with no exposure to malaria, the native birds, unlike introduced species, are highly susceptible to the disease. In some species, 90 percent of individuals die after being bitten once by a mosquito carrying avian malaria, DLNR said.
Avian malaria is the single biggest threat to three forest bird species on Kauai at risk of imminent extinction. The akikiki and the puaiohi number fewer than 500 birds, the agency said, and the population of fewer than 1,000 akekee has declined more 90 percent in the last 10 years. The iiwi population also has experienced a dramatic decline and was listed as threatened in September.
The Save Kauai’s Spectacular Birds from Avian Malaria campaign’s youcaring.com page features videos of recovery project research staff championing their favorite forest bird species and asks the public to “adopt” a species with a donation.
Money raised through the campaign will allow the researchers to head into remote, mountainous areas to tracks infected birds and reduce mosquito populations. Donations also can be made at kauaiforestbirds.org. Donors may qualify for perks that include T-shirts, notecards and photos featuring Kauai’s spectacular forest birds.
The Kaua‘i Forest Bird Recovery Project is a DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife program in collaboration with the Pacific Studies Cooperative Unit of the University of Hawaii and Garden Island Resource Conservation and Development Inc. Funding comes from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and private and not-for-profit donors.
The crowdfunding campaign runs through May 31.