Snail Extinction Prevention Program
This ‘ōlelo no‘eau, ke kāhuli leo le‘a o ka nahele, is a saying in Hawai‘i used to compliment a sweet-voiced individual. The kāhuli, pupukanioe, or pololei have long been revered by Hawaiians, often appearing in mele, hula, mo‘olelo, oli, and in this case ‘ōlelo no‘eau. Their ornate shells once blanketed the trees of Hawai‘i with a presence so abundant some believe the kāhuli’s song was composed by the wind swirling through their shells.
Their adaptive radiation of approximately 750 species across the Hawaiian islands is an ecological spectacle, elucidating theories of evolution and island biogeography. Unfortunately, scientists estimate up to 90% of this diversity has vanished as a result of introduced invasive predators, habitat loss, over collection and climate change.
Since 2012, the Hawaii Snail Extinction Prevention Program has been working diligently to reverse the extinction of this species and return healthy populations to Hawaii’s forests for future generations to enjoy.
The Hawai‘i Snail Extinction Prevention Program (SEPP) is a partnership between the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources-Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the University of Hawai‘i. Our program has ambitious goals of securing rare and endangered snail species through the integration of novel captive rearing methods, on the ground management of wild populations and coordination with partner groups to align rare snail conservation objectives and management techniques across islands and entities.
We are guided by an advisory committee comprised of conservationists, academics, and personnel from partner organizations and agencies with experience working in Hawaiian ecosystems and especially with Hawaiian snails. Our advisory committee, the Hui Kāhuli, meets annually to guide conservation efforts.
What We Do
Keahi Bustamente – Maui Nui Field Coordinator
Kūpa‘a Hee – Oahu Field Coordinator
Sidney Stiefel – Oahu Field Technician
Sidney’s contributions to SEPP are primarily field focused, her days are typically spent in the forest monitoring extant native snail populations, controlling for predators and maintaining predator proof exclosures. After receiving a bachelors degree from Boston University where she studied Biology with specializations in Ecology, Evolution, Conservation Biology and Marine Science, she returned home to Oʻahu to pursue a career in conservation and serve the land that nurtured her upbringing. Through Kupu’s Conservation Leadership Development Program, Sidney worked with the Division of Forestry and Wildlife Native Ecosystems Protection and Management admin team, where she was first exposed to SEPP and grew to love Hawaii’s endemic snails and their native habitats.
Captive Rearing Crew
AmeriCorps Kupu Members
UH Mānoa Undergraduate Assistants
Visit our alumni page to learn about those who have lent helpful hands and contributed to SEPP’s efforts. We would not be where we are today without them!
For any media inquiries please contact:
Hawai`i DLNR Communications Office
For more information regarding the SEP program please contact:
David Sischo, Snail Extinction Prevention Program Coordinator
DLNR – Division of Forestry and Wildlife
1151 Punchbowl Street, Rm. 325, Honolulu, HI 96813
Contact via email