A Modern Setback

in Protection

by Ariana Loehr

Nakula Natural Area Reserve, Hawaii

Only four years ago, I helped to study the lush gulches and grassy ridges on the leeward side of Haleakala. Our team was looking for mosquitos that might harm the native bird populations by spreading avian malaria. And only four years ago, we didn’t find any of these mosquitos. This lead the team to believe that the site could be a viable location for the reintroduction of the critically endangered Maui Parrotbill. This past fall, we were all proved wrong. Climate change had warmed up the mountainside just enough for mosquitos carrying the disease to creep up into the new parrotbill habitat. All 13 of the birds that had been relocated perished quickly. Over seven years of planting thousands of trees had restored the habitat of a bird that might not have the opportunity to enjoy it.

Ariana Loehr is currently a field technician for Monarch Joint Venture and has spent the last several years working with wildlife throughout North America, Asia and the Pacific. To see more art or read more stories about conservation across the globe follow her blog at thebrokebiologists.weebly.com