Long before the Hawaiian Islands experienced the first footfalls of humans; it was a haven for some very rare bird species. As per record, there were 113 Hawaiian birds to begin with. The bounty of nature in this archipelago of eight major islands is almost endless and the natural settings attracted birds of different varieties that added to the natural beauty of the place. Once humans encroached into this vast natural space, they carried along with them several animals that caused an imbalance to the natural settings. As a result of the ecological imbalance that kept growing with the increase in human population, its adverse effects on nature started surfacing. Birds were the worst victims of the ecological impairment and their population started dwindling. And it all happened very fast and very soon. Seventy one bird species have become extinct till now and these were species that are not to be found in any other parts of the world.
How it happened
There are two factors that can be clearly identified as the cause for the unfortunate extinction of the bird species.
- Human encroachment – The day humans laid there foot on the beautiful islands, to whom it is a paradise, it spelt danger for the natural habitat in many ways. Although it all happened without any intention of causing harm to the nature, the effects were disastrous on birds, especially. The animal population of the island became over populated as humans did not come alone to the place, but brought along with them sheep, goats, cattle, cats, deer, pigs and rats. New arthropods and ants were also introduced that impacted the food webs adversely. Adult Hawaiian birds and eggs were devoured by rats and cats. Birds contracted diseases like pox and malaria that the mosquitoes spread.
- Change in climate – Like humans, the effects of climate changes have taken its toll on the bird species of the Hawaiian islands. The spread of avian diseases and changes in rainfall patterns have been difficult to withstand for some bird species and these became extinct. Higher temperatures encouraged mosquitoes to thrive and this spread killer diseases among the birds.
In the face of such severe onslaught from human invasion as well as climatic changes, there are some groups actively working in conserving the natural habitat of the place and have taken up the vow to protect the remaining species of Hawaiian birds. These groups are working tirelessly to rehabilitate birds and offer them adequate protection by building sanctuaries and recreating natural habitats that are conducive for their survival. Some species are even moved out from a particular region and rehabilitated in another favorable environment somewhere else within the archipelago.
These bird loving groups face their own sets of challenges. Paucity of funds and difficulty in accessing many places on the islands are serious impediments that they have to cope with. However, it is their determination to save the birds from further harm that forms the silver lining and gives hope to all.