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A Visit to Hawaiʻi Wildlife Center and Introducing Bella Rohrer

This post is to update you on our most recent trip back to the Big Island.

But, first let us introduce Bella Rohrer who has been helping us for the last year. She is our Communications and Social Media Intern. You may have noticed some of her fun and engaging posts on our social media accounts over the last few months. She is studying at the University of Colorado Boulder to obtain an undergraduate degree with a major in Public Relations, and a double minor in sociology and philosophy.

Our trip to Hawaiʻi included a wonderful visit to the Hawaiʻi Wildlife Center. Bella had never had the chance to visit and see this special place in person. So, it was a treat for us to return and even more wonderful to be able to introduce Bella to some of the amazing people that make this facility so essential to Hawaiian wildlife conservation.

The visit was a great opportunity for Bella to see some of the work that goes into preserving the natural wildlife in Hawaiʻi. She said about the visit: “Getting to visit the HWC was an amazing experience. Having the chance to see firsthand how this organization helps some of Hawaiʻi’s endangered bird species and educates the public about these beautiful creatures. The HWC’s focus on getting younger generations excited about indigenous Hawaiian wildlife aligns with Kula Naiʻa’s goals to do the same for the local community.”

Bella Roher with some of the educational displays at HWC.

As many of you know, the Hawaiʻi Wildlife Center, on the Big Island (Island of Hawaiʻi) is the only rescue and rehabilitation center for native Hawaiian birds in the islands.

After several years of absence, due to covid and other complications, it was such a pleasure to make a return visit to their location in Kapa‘au in Hawaiʻi. This was made extra special, as Christian Roher who is a member of our Board of Directors was also able to join us.

Rae Okawa (HWC), Bella Rohrer, Jan Ostman-Lind and Christian Rohrer (KNF) at the Hawaiʻi wildlife center.

We were met by Rae Okawa, the HWC development director. Rae has been instrumental to the development and growth of the programs at HWC almost since its inception. Her kindness and care extended to take time away from her important work to host us. We “talked story” and caught up on recent events.

In May of 2020, they cared for their 1000th patient, a young White Tern (Manu-o-Kū). Image from HWC.

And just last year they had over 900 patients to care for and they have been very busy this year as well. We were also lucky to be able to meet with head veterinarian Dr. Juan Guerra, who happened to have a gap in his busy schedule. He told us about the rehabilitation efforts for some of their current patients, including Nēnē (Hawaiian goose), White Terns and Brown Boobies. They have also treated many other seabirds including albatrosses, shearwaters, petrels and tern species, as well as indigenous shorebirds, forest birds and Hawaiian hoary bats.

We had the rare opportunity to meet the HWC’s resident Hawaiian Hawk (‘Io in Hawaiian), named Maka‘io. He sustained severe wing injuries in September 2019, while HWC was able to successfully treat him, he cannot survive in the wild. Instead he is currently being trained to become an educational ambassador. This training is also done by Dr. Guerra, in addition to taking care of all of the patients, so he is a very busy man.

Maka‘io at HWC

We celebrate their vital and unique contribution to the conservation of native wildlife in Hawaiʻi, including all endemic birds and the endemic Hoary bat. The seabird book series we are currently developing will support their efforts. We are currently working on the second book in the series, focused on the White tern, or Manu-o-Kū. If you would like to help support the development of the book series you can contribute to our GoFundMe campaign.


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