The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced yesterday 23 more species listed as endangered on Oahu, joining 437 others in the Hawaiian Islands. This is the highest number for any state, and it’s what researchers attribute to Hawaii’s isolation from the mainland, invasive and nonnative plants and urban development.

Both the oceanic damselfly (top) and blackline damselfly (bottom) have been added to the list of endangered species in Hawaii.

The newly-listed species include herbs, shrubs, ferns, trees and three species of damselflies. The Hawaiian damselfly, blackline Hawaiian damselfly and the oceanic Hawaiian damselfly will now be protected under the Endangered Species Act. I have a friend who works everyday to protect Hawaii’s endangered species as part of his job at a nature conservancy program. He installs fences to prevent feral animals, such as goats and pigs, from trampling on native plants and also mentioned that the forest becomes more native, the higher up you go.

More than 42,000 acres on Oahu – in seven different ecosystems – have been identified as “critical habitats” for such species. These include native ferns, vines, shrubs, grasses, trees and herbs. The Fish and Wildlife Service will start taking a holistic approach to conservation by restoring these important ecosystems.

This native ohe plant is also an endangered species.

As a visitor to the islands, it’s always important to become educated on issues like this. Not only will you encounter them on a hike through the many native forests here but also on a stroll through a park or a neighborhood. It may also be worth checking out possible volunteer opportunities with local nature organizations, as a way to really get up-close-and-personal with some of Hawaii’s most precious species.

Photos Courtesy: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Dan Polhemus (first); Ane Bakutis (second)


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