ALAKAI PLATEAU, Hawaii (KHON2) — Conservationists are now faced with a new challenge in their efforts to save a native bird.

The ‘akikiki which is also known as the Hawaiian honeycreeper is on the brink of extinction due to disease-carrying mosquitoes and rats.

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There are just a few of these birds left in the wild; and officials said that while these birds are good at breeding, their nests are now becoming the target of rats.

“This is one of the last places where we’re still seeing a ton of native forest birds, where everywhere else, just in the last couple of years they’ve quickly and suddenly vanished,” Justin Hite from the Kaua‘i Forest Bird Recovery Project. “And we think it’s because of mosquitoes,”

Hite explained this during a recent eight-day-long egg collection trip he and his team took. 

Crews have put rat traps in areas they’ve seen bird nests.

Robby Kohley, Director of Aviculture with Pacific Rim Conservation, is the on-site expert working with the forest bird team in the Mohihi region of the plateau. 

“Each project comes with a different set of challenges. The logistics problems of this project are quite high,” explained Robby Kohley, Director of Aviculture with Pacific Rim Conservation. “Between the weather [mostly wet, muddy and incredibly steep] and the lack of luck, ‘akikiki are having with nests this year. I’d say this one ranks really high on the challenge scale.” 

Kohley has worked across the Hawaiian Islands and in Alaska to save indigenous wildlife.

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They’ve also collected 10 ‘akikiki eggs, where they’ll eventually be taken to a bird conservation center.

Officials said that if nothing is done, then the ‘akikiki could go extinct within the next year or so.