Learn more about the Conservation Council here.
The Honolulu Zoo is working with Amastra cylindrica, a critically endangered Hawaiian land snail endemic to the Southern Wai`anae Mountains on O`ahu. Since November 2017 a total of 157 Amastra snails, born and raised here at our Ectotherm Complex have been returned to the Hawai`i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) for release into the wild. Although listed as critically endangered by the IUCN Red list, scientists working with this species feel it should be reassessed and elevated to extinct in the wild. The last known wild population was extirpated in 2015 by invasive predators. The individuals alive in captivity today are the progeny of only two founding snails. It is hoped that the Honolulu Zoo, in partnership with DLNR, will be able to continue to raise and release progeny and re-establish the population in the wild.
The Hawai‘i Wildlife Center is a state- and region-wide wildlife response organization. Their programs include disaster response and responder training, contingency planning, research and hands-on wildlife rehabilitation at our wildlife hospital in Kapa‘au, Hawai‘i Island. The Hawai’i Wildlife Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the mission of protecting, conserving, and aiding in the recovery of Hawai’i’s native wildlife through hands-on treatment, research, training, science education and cultural programs. The HWC is the first organization of its kind exclusively for native Hawaiian wildlife and provides state-of-the-art care and rehabilitation for native animals as well as comprehensive wildlife rescue training and public education and outreach programs. The HWC is not a zoo or a reserve, it is a professional organization that focuses on treating and rehabilitating sick, injured and oiled wildlife for release back into the wild. The HWC provides care for all species of native birds and the Hawaiian hoary bat. Of the 70+ native taxa cared for, 90% are federally threatened, endangered or of high conservation concern. The HWC is the only facility of its kind in the Pacific Islands Region and meets all federal, state, and local standards for accommodating a large-scale rescue and rehabilitation effort targeting oiled, sick or injured wildlife. The HWC facility, which is located on Big Island, is purpose-built, 4500 ft2, sits on two acres, and operates seven days a week. The facility also has purpose-built recovery aviaries to condition and strengthen birds before release. The HWC serves all major and minor Hawaiian Islands, extending to Midway and Kure Atoll. The Honolulu Zoo and the Hawaii Wildlife Center are collaborating in wildlife rehabilitation efforts on Oahu. In November/December the Honolulu Zoo partnered with the Hawaii Wildlife Center in a 3 week pilot program for the shearwater fallout season which proved to be quite successful. We continue to partner conservation efforts and wildlife rehabilitation and hope to grow our efforts further in the near future.
In late 2017 staff from the Honolulu Zoo and the Hawai`i Invertebrate Program at the Hawai`i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DFW) went to the Manoa Cliff Native Forest Restoration area and did our first release of Kamehameha caterpillars hatched at the Honolulu Zoo and Kamehameha butterflies (pulelehua, Vanessa tameamea) from the DLNR lab. The program and partnership have proved to be quite successful: Over 300 caterpillars have been hatched at the Ectotherm Complex and returned to DLNR to be raised and released at the Manoa Cliff site (where they were once common) and others have been given to DLNR scientists for ongoing studies. We have also raised, tagged and released a number of butterflies on zoo grounds. The Kamehameha butterfly is the Hawaii State Insect.
The goal of the Kaua‘i Forest Bird Recovery Project is to promote knowledge, appreciation, and conservation of Kaua‘i’s native forest birds. To this end they are actively engaged in community outreach and education, conduct basic research and have been involved in breeding and translocation projects. Their focus on the I’iwi (threatened) and Puaiohi, ‘Akikiki, and ‘Akeke’e (endangered), with the goal of facilitating recovery of their populations in the wild.
Laukahi is a voluntary alliance of agencies, organizations and individuals whose goal is to protect Hawai‘i’s rare plant species through coordinated conservation efforts by implementing the Hawai‘i Strategy for Plant Conservation. The organization was created as a response to the urgent need to address the vulnerability of native plant populations.
The Manoa Cliff restoration site is a 6-acre area of forest along the Manoa Cliff trail above Honolulu which the Department of Land and Natural Resources fenced in to keep out feral pigs. The all-volunteer restoration project was initiated by UH graduate student Mashuri Waite in 2005 with a permit from Na Ala Hele (responsible for the State trail system). This area was chosen because it still has many interesting native species and is easily accessible to the average hiker on O’ahu. Honolulu Zoo has provided funds to purchase plant seedlings for native lobeliads which are then out-planted along the trail. We also provide volunteers, and funds for miscellaneous small tools and supplies for weeding and removing trees. There are public volunteer workdays each and every Sunday. www.manoacliff.org
Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project (MFBRP) is driven by science and dedicated to the conservation of Hawaiʻi’s native forest ecosystems. Their mission is to develop and implement techniques that recover Maui’s endangered forest birds and to restore their habitats through research, development, and application of conservation techniques.
Marianas Avifauna Conservation (MAC) was initiated by the Honolulu and Memphis Zoos in 2004. The goal of the group is to develop techniques to capture, hold and breed all of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands’ (CNMI) eleven native bird species and to establish captive populations of selected species for potential reintroduction to islands in the CNMI in the event that the brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis) is established and the bird populations extirpated. Birds are being translocated to the northern islands in the Marianas chain that are free of the brown tree snake to establish self-sustaining, satellite populations. MAC is a collaborative project between the CNMI Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Pacific Bird Conservation, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The Honolulu Zoo has been a major supporter of the project providing financial support and veterinary and keeper staff on many of their annual trips.
Pacific Rim Conservation was founded in 2006 to fill a need for research-based management of native species, particularly birds, throughout Hawai`i and the Pacific. Island species, particularly those in Hawai`i, are some of the most imperiled on earth and with so few individuals of some species, research is sorely needed to inform management actions. Pacific Rim Conservation’s mission is to maintain and restore native bird diversity, populations, and ecosystems in Hawaii and the Pacific Region
The Honolulu Zoo partners with the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DFW), Hawai`i Invertebrate Program (HIP) in the conservation of native endemic invertebrates. The goal of the Invertebrate Program is to recover populations of rare endemic arthropods and snails through captive rearing, reintroductions, and translocations. In November 2017, in collaboration with the Hawaii Invertebrate Program, the Honolulu Zoo opened our Kamehameha Butterfly Exhibit and Native Endemic Invertebrate Breeding Lab within the new Ectotherm Complex.
The Honolulu Zoo works closely with Hawaii State Department of Agriculture Plant Quarantine Division, providing information to the public regarding the threat of invasive species and the harm they can do to Hawai`i’s fragile ecosystem. The Honolulu Zoo also participates in the state’s Amnesty program and as a municipal zoo is a drop off point for the voluntary surrender of illegal animals. Animals such as snakes, large reptiles, predatory mammals, invasive bird species and non-native mammals are illegal to have in Hawai`i. No penalties are assessed if a person voluntarily turns in a prohibited species before an investigation is initiated.
The Oahu Invasive Species Committee (OISC) is a voluntary partnership of state, federal, and private agencies united to protect Oahu from the most harmful invasive plants and animals that threaten our environment, economy, and human health. They work to prevent the establishment of new alien pests, control incipient pests on public and private land, and educate the community about the threats of invasive species and what they can do to help.
Learn more about our Official City Bird here.
Founded in Namibia in 1990, Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) is dedicated to saving the cheetah in the wild. The majority of wild cheetahs live in sub-Saharan Africa with the largest clusters found in Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana, and western Zambia. Currently classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN, with fewer than 6,700 individuals surviving in the wild, the global cheetah population is highly threatened by loss of habitat, human-wildlife conflict, poaching and illegal trafficking. CCF employs a holistic conservation strategy to address the concerns for both the cheetah population and for the humans that share the landscape. One of the CCF’s most successful programs is the Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD) initiative through which farmers receive trained guard dogs to assist in protecting their livestock from predators. Studies have shown that farmers with an LGD are less likely to trap or shoot cheetahs. CCF’s education team also works with and within local communities to present conservation-focused programming aimed at introducing regional youth groups, teachers, farmers, health officials and community leaders to conflict resolution strategies that can be mutually beneficial to both human and cheetah populations.
In 1998 the IUCN estimated the total Africa-wide giraffe population at 140,000. By 2016, when the IUCN completed its Red List assessment, that population had dropped by almost 30%, indicating that the species is most certainly in danger. While the conservation status of giraffe is considered Vulnerable overall, a 2018 IUCN assessment categorized half of the recognized subspecies populations as Critically Endangered or Endangered. Furthermore, in some areas traditionally regarded as prime giraffe habitat, population numbers have decreased by a staggering 95%. As the interest in and necessity for giraffe conservation increases, GCF researchers continue to collaborate with local, national, and international partners to raise awareness about threats facing the Africa-wide giraffe population, and to support the conservation of viable and existing habitat for giraffe.
The Mabula Ground Hornbill Project aims to slow the population decline of the Southern Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri), a flagship species native to southern Africa. Known as one of the ‘Big Six’ bird species in Kruger National Park, the Southern Ground Hornbill has been listed by the IUCN as globally Vulnerable and Endangered in South Africa, where researchers estimate that only 1,500 individuals remain. The population decrease is most closely tied to habitat loss due to agriculture and deforestation, accidental poisoning, electrocution on power transformer boxes, and hunting for bushmeat and traditional medicine. The Mabula Ground Hornbill Project hand rears second chicks that would otherwise die of starvation and then reintroduces them back into areas where they are locally extinct. The Project also provides artificial nests for wild birds, conducts research on genetics and behavior and coordinates awareness campaigns to educate the local and international public about the increasing threats to this species.
The primary objective of SANCCOB is to reverse the decline of seabird populations along the South African coast, through the rescue and rehabilitation and release of ill, injured, abandoned and oiled seabirds. Since its inception in 1968, SANCCOB has treated over 97,000 seabirds, achieving an overall release rate of 86%. SANCCOB is internationally recognized for its efforts as oiled wildlife first responders. They focus on endangered seabird species like the African Penguin. Of the 2,500 seabirds typically treated by SANCCOB each year, 60% are sick and/or injured African Penguins, a population that is highly susceptible to predation, habitat loss, disease, and the effects of oil spills. Conservation measures include monitoring population trends, hand-rearing and releasing abandoned chicks, deploying artificial nests and establishing marine reserves in which commercial fishing is prohibited. SANCCOB also partners with local and international conservation groups to run education projects, host international marine volunteers, improve seabird handling techniques, and establish the most up-to-date rehabilitation protocols.
The Komodo Survival Program is an Indonesian-based, not-for-profit organization that is helping to develop and implement island-based conservation management strategies for wild Komodo Dragon populations. Endemic to five islands in Southeast Indonesia, the Komodo Dragon is currently listed by the IUCN as Vulnerable with an estimated 6,000 individuals remaining in the wild. The population is declining primarily due to loss of habitat, the overhunting of prey by humans, and the introduction of feral dogs which compete with the Dragons for food. KSP works to collect and compile data on the biology and ecology of the Komodo Dragon by monitoring wild populations. They also engage local communities in wildlife protection activities to develop awareness and promote conservation.
The mission of the Orangutan Project is to ensure the protection of critically endangered wild orangutan species thereby securing these populations for the future. The organization supports direct orangutan conservation but also habitat protection and regeneration, education and research, and partnerships with local communities in Borneo and Sumatra. The Honolulu Zoo specifically supports the Orangutan Project’s Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve in Central Kalimantan, Borneo. Since 2006, more than 22 previously captive orangutans have been reintroduced to the wild in this reserve. Most of them have since reproduced and successfully raised their young in the vicinity, confirming that the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve is a pivotal orangutan reintroduction site.
It is estimated that 2,500 elephants live in captivity across India, a country that is home to 60% of the world’s remaining Asian elephants. The goal of Wildlife SOS is to rescue Asian elephants being used in the tourist trade, for entertainment, street begging and manual labor. The organization facilitates the removal of sick and/or injured elephants from substandard living conditions, offers veterinary care to elephants in need, and works to educate owners, handlers and communities on humane treatment and management. Through partnerships with Project Elephant and Indian state forest departments, Wildlife SOS takes action to re-home abused elephants in sponsored sanctuaries.
The Japanese giant salamander (Andrias japonicus) is the world’s largest amphibian and has been federally protected as a special natural monument by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs since 1952 due to its cultural and educational significance. The Honolulu Zoo supports several organizations in Japan that are doing conservation work with this species. We collaborated with Yuki Taguchi of the Asa Zoo on testing their captive breeding protocol and several zoo staff persons have assisted with field surveys for Japanese giant salamanders.
The Institute conducts in-situ surveys of Japanese giant salamanders in Hyogo Prefecture. The study includes conducting surveys and analyzing data collected on about 1600 specimens over the last 40 years. They are developing a digital database from analog data, monitoring the survey area, comparing results to the database and analyzing all data, all with the goal of unlocking the basic ecology of and conservation implications to the Japanese giant salamanders.
The Asa Zoo has been performing Japanese giant salamander investigations regularly in the Shijihara area in the northern part of Hiroshima Prefecture since 1973. Due to human made weirs on these rivers the salamanders cannot go upstream to lay their eggs so artificial breeding nests were created. The local people and the Asa Zoo maintain the artificial nests by clearing them of sand every June. The sand accumulates from heavy rains and runoff which blocks the entrance to the den. The local people began to think of the giant salamander as the greatest good fortune in their town.
The IUCN is the largest conservation organization on the planet and is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it. IUCN is a membership Union composed of more than 1,300 member organizations, including the Honolulu Zoo’s Aloha `Aina Conservation Fund, harnessing the experience, resources and reach of more than 15,000 experts. It is a democratic Union that brings together the world’s most influential organizations and top experts in a combined effort to conserve nature and accelerate the transition to sustainable development.
The IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) is a science-based network of more than 9,000 volunteer experts from almost every country of the world, working together towards achieving the vision of,
“A just world that values and conserves nature through positive action to reduce the loss of diversity of life on earth”.
Most members are deployed in more than 160 Specialist Groups, Red List Authorities, Task Forces and Conservation Committees. Some groups address conservation issues related to particular groups of plants, fungi or animals while others focus on topical issues, such as reintroduction of species into former habitats or wildlife health.
The IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group (ASG) is the global volunteer network of dedicated experts who donate their time and expertise to create a community from where practical amphibian conservation can be advanced based on a solid foundation of science. A Honolulu Zoo staff member participates in this group.
The purpose of this workshop was to train scientists and specialists in the conservation field to apply the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria and the Regional Guidelines to conduct species assessments, in this case, of endemic Hawaiian flora and fauna. Agencies represented include USFW, DLNR-DFW, NOAA and the Honolulu Zoo.
Held once every four years, the IUCN World Conservation Congress brings together several thousand leaders and decision-makers from government, civil society, indigenous peoples, business, and academia, with the goal of conserving the environment and harnessing the solutions nature offers to global challenges. The IUCN Congress is the place to put aside differences and work together to create good environmental governance, engaging all parts of society to share both the responsibilities and the benefits of conservation.