“E ʻae ana wau i ka ualo i ka leo hea a ka pololei”
I shall heed the urgent cry of the calling voice of the land snail
– Queen Liliʻuokalani
An extinction crisis is occurring in the islands. Our beloved land snails, the kāhuli, pūpū kani oe, and pūpū kuahiwi are being devoured into oblivion by invasive species. These animals that are intimately associated with Hawaiian hula and chant, for which places are named and songs are sung, are slipping through our fingers like water.
While native land snails in the islands have been in decline for many years, the rate of decline has increased drastically with the spread of invasive species, habitat loss and climate change. Unfortunately, we are facing a future where our pūpū kani oe will sing no more. We have precious little time before the appetites of invasive species extinguish these jewels of nature and culture forever.
The Snail Extinction Prevention Program was formed in 2012, as a partnership between the Hawaiʻi Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to stem the tide of extinction.