The 21st Show

Best of: There’s only a few of these birds left in the world. An Illinois researcher is trying to save them.

Screenshot from American Bird Conservancy

Screenshot from American Bird Conservancy Youtube - American Bird Conservancy

In the mountains of Kaua'i, the 'Akikiki, a critically endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper, is teetering on the edge of extinction with just five individuals remaining in the wild. This urgent situation has spurred concerted efforts from conservationists, including Maria Costantini, a postdoctoral research associate at the Illinois Natural History Survey, whose work is integral to the survival of these birds.

Among the innovative conservation strategies is the "Birds, Not Mosquitoes" project, spearheaded by the American Bird Conservancy and local partners, aiming to reduce the threat of avian malaria by sterilizing male mosquitoes.

This initiative, alongside habitat restoration and invasive species management efforts by the Kaua'i Forest Bird Recovery Project and the Department of Land and Natural Resources, underscores a crucial collaboration between scientists, conservationists, and the community in the battle to preserve Hawaii's irreplaceable biodiversity

Maria Costantini

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Illinois Natural History Survey

A version of this conversation was first broadcast January 17, 2024.