2023: Year of the Kāhuli

2023: Year of the Kāhuli

Year of the Kāhuli

2023 was officially the Year of the Kāhuli, proclaimed by Governor Josh Green on February 23, 2023. There were once roughly 750 species of kāhuli, or Hawaiian land snails, across our islands and found nowhere else in the world. Our kāhuli are both ecologically important (as cleaners of fungus and bacteria from our native plants) and culturally important, as they are featured in Native Hawaiian mele, hula, oli, and lei. In the Year of the Kāhuli, we both celebrate these snails and recognize their plight: of those roughly 750 species, 60% have now been lost forever. Our remaining kāhuli face serious threats including invasive species predation, habitat loss, and climate change, and 100 or more species may go extinct in the next 10 years without additional action.

Governor Green proclaimed the Year of the Kāhuli to raise awareness of these imperiled jewels of Hawaiian forests. To learn more and get involved, check out the activities below and stay tuned for kāhuli events all year long. You can also learn about different snail species and the work of the Snail Extinction Prevention Program and Bishop Museum Malacology Program through the links at the bottom of this page.

Year of the Kāhuli proclamation

Year of the Kāhuli Activities

While the Year of the Kāhuli is pau, many activities are still available for download or request, and you can learn at any time about the ongoing work of the Snail Extinction Prevention Program at DLNR Forestry & Wildlife and the Bishop Museum Malacology Program.

Classroom poster: Land Snails of Hawaiʻi

We’ve created a new poster to celebrate kāhuli and inspire students to care for and learn about Hawaiʻi’s lands snails. The poster is 24″x18″ on glossy, medium-weight paper, and it features 25 photos highlighting the diversity of colors and patterns across our native tree snails. The poster features ʻōlelo noʻeau 1717 (Pukuʻi):

Ke kāhuli leo leʻa o ka nahele: the sweet-voiced kāhuli landshell of the forest. 

The poster is free to Hawaiʻi educators, limit one poster per classroom. Shipping is free, too, if you’re on Kauaʻi, Maui Naui, or Hawaiʻi Island: Just email us at [email protected] with a mailing address. For Oʻahu educators, stop by our office (DLNR Forestry & Wildlife, 1151 Punchbowl St, Rm 325) during business hours, no appointment necessary. 

Want more ways to decorate your classroom with native species? We have more posters on our Education page featuring native forest birds, wetlands, and plants. Let us know which ones you’d like and we’ll include them in the same shipment as your kāhuli poster.

Land Snails of Hawaiʻi Poster


Watch online: Kāhuli, a new, award-winning documentary

Director Chris A Johns brings a close-up look at Hawaiʻi’s land snails and the people racing to save them from extinction. The film is part of the Pacific Heartbeat Series, a production of Pacific Islanders in Communications in partnership with PBS. It is included in a triple-feature of short documentaries entitled Hawaiʻi’s Precious Resources. The three films include:

  • Kumu Niu, a 15-min short film on the cultural importance of coconut palms and efforts to bring them back into our communities
  • Kāhuli, a 25-min film exploring the efforts of DLNR’s Snail Extinction Prevention Program and Bishop Museum in saving these imperiled snails
  • After the Endling, an animated feature about Lonely George, the last Achatinella apexfulva.

You can stream the episode at the PBS website: Hawaiʻi’s Precious Resources- Pacific Heartbeat Series. The episode will be broadcast over 600 times on PBS nationwide, with local airdates on PBS Hawaiʻi on September 2 at 8:00 PM and September 7 at 10:00 PM.

A thumbnail of palms and snails

Virtual Field Trip: Snail Lab & Return to the Forest

Our kāhuli are some of the rarest animals on earth. One way to prevent extinction is to take threatened populations of rare snails into the lab of the Snail Extinction Prevention Program, where the kāhuli receive specialized care and are encouraged to grow their populations. When the population has grown, lab staff can then return kāhuli to protected forests we call “kāhuli kīpuka.” In this virtual field trip, you can explore the lab, meet the staff who keep our kāhuli safe, and join a team returning kāhuli to the forest. This field trip takes students of all ages to places that simply aren’t feasible to see in person, and allow them to see these rare, wonderful animals up close. Take the field trip on your own by clicking below, or as a classroom by projecting the field trip onto a larger screen.

Get your kāhuli digital swag and take kāhuli wherever you go

Show your kāhuli love with phone wallpapers and Zoom backgrounds featuring our beloved land snails. The Zoom backgrounds also work as wallpapers for computers and tables. In real life kāhuli are hard to see- they’re small and mostly only found in our mauka forests. Now you can have a digital kāhuli in your pocket, or bring one to your next meeting.

Click here to choose your kāhuli digital swag.

Kahuli digital swag wallpapers and backgrounds

Kāhuli Headband Activity

For a hands-on activity in your classroom or home, try our kāhuli headband. This simple paper craft allows you to cut, paste, and color your way to becoming a native Hawaiian kāhuli. 

Download our kāhuli headband in color, or in black and white. Cut out the headband, snail head, and shells. Paste the ends of the headband to the back of the snail head. Color your shells however you’d like, and then tape or paste the shells to the sides of the headband. If you’re looking for color inspiration, check out the real snails that call our forests home.

Kāhuli headband thumbnail


Kāhuli holiday ornament: Mele Kāhuli Kalikimaka

Decorate your tree or home with kāhuli! Print out our Mele Kāhuli Kalikimaka activity, color the shell however you’d like, and hang it to spread some holiday cheer and kāhuli awareness.

Download our Mele Kāhuli Kalikimaka activity

Mele Kāhuli Kalikimaka Ornament

Kāhuli holiday craft: ʻŌhiʻa & Kāhuli Wreath

Decorate your classroom or home with a holiday wreath made of (paper) ʻōhiʻa decorated with beautiful kāhuli. You can color in this paper craft with any colors you like and learn about our kāhuli at the same time. The downloadable PDF comes with instructions and facts about kāhuli and ʻōhiʻa.

Download our ʻōhiʻa & kāhuli wreath activity

Build your own ʻōhiʻa and kāhuli wreath

Kāhuli Care: Make a Donation

Help us care for our kāhuli by making an online donation of any amount to the Natural Area Reserves System, which helps protect lands that in many cases provide habitat for kāhuli. On the donation page you can also take a virtual tour of our Natural Area Reserves across Hawaiʻi and learn more about these special protected areas. Learn more and donate here.

An image of West Maui Natural Area Reserve

Kāhuli Art & Murals

Hawaiʻi has an amazing community of artists who have been inspired by our beautiful kāhuli. In response to the proclamation of Year of the Kāhuli, artists have been creating amazing graphics, prints, pins, and clothing. Check out #kahuli on Instagram to see some of the amazing work being done to share the beauty of these creatures.

Our 2023 DLNR conservation stamp art contest featured kāhuli this year, with artists encouraged to submit original works depicting kāhuli and the winning artwork being featured on the conservation stamp required for hunting in Hawaiʻi. Funds from the sale of the conservation stamp support the work of DLNR Forestry & Wildlife.

And if you drive down H1 in Honolulu take a quick glance mauka as you pass the Bishop Museum. The museum partnered with artist Kai Kalukukui on a beautiful kāhuli mural that brightens the day of everyone in Honolulu traffic.

Hawaiʻi's 2023 kāhuli conservation stampA mural of kāhuli at Bishop Museum


Past Events

The votes are in: Meet your Hawaiʻi State Snails

Our partners at Bishop Museum launched the online Hawaiʻi State Snails voting platform in late summer 2023, allowing students and residents to vote for the official land snails that should be designated as a symbols of different islands in Hawaiʻi. The winners were: Succinea konaensis for the island of Hawaiʻi, Lyropupa striatula for the island of Maui, Pleuropoma laciniosa kahoolawensis for the island of Kahoʻolawe, Auriculella lanaiensis for island of Lānaʻi, Laminella venusta for the island of Molokaʻi, Kaala subrutila for the island of Oʻahu, Erinna newcombi for the island of Kauaʻi, Collonista verruca for the island of Niʻihau, and Endodonta christenseni for the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.

In 2024, we plan to work with legislators to propose these snails to be designated in law.

Vote Kahuli

2023 Kāhuli Festival at the Bishop Museum: September 23rd

Kāhuli Fest 2023 at the Bishop Museum was a huge party with over 900 people. It was an opportunity to learn about and celebrate some of the biocultural diversity that makes Hawaiʻi unique and a place we all love to call home. The daylong program included activity booths hosted by community partners; exhibits featuring live endangered and rare snails from Bishop Museum’s Hawaiian Land Snail Conservation Program and the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Snail Extinction Prevention Program; art exhibits featuring local artists, and more. You can learn more at the Bishop Museum’s Kāhuli Festival webpage.

Kahuli Fest

Kāhuli in the 2023 State Libraries Summer Reading Series

We partnered with the Hawaiʻi State Library System to inspire your summer reading and bring kāhuli to a library near you. Ask your local library for a reading list of kāhuli-related books that were featured in the summer 2023 reading program. We visited 15 libraries across the state this year to provide advanced screenings of the award-winning documentary Kāhuli, guide participants through a virtual field trip of the Snail Extinction Prevention Lab, and share display boxes of real kāhuli shells so participants can see their beautiful patterns.

Kāhuli Brewli: A limited-edition beer from Honolulu Beerworks

At the end of April Honolulu Beerworks released a limited-edition beer called Kāhuli Brewli. The beer celebrates our beloved land snails and a portion of the sales go to support the Snail Extinction Prevention Program at DLNR Forestry & Wildlife.

A tree snail

Governor’s Proclamation Ceremony: 2023 is the Year of the Kāhuli

In February Governor Josh Green, MD, invited Hawaiʻi’s community of snail enthusiasts to join him at the Capitol for the proclamation of 2023 as the Year of the Kāhuli. This event kicked off our year of community events and educational activities, and allowed some of our kāhuli friends to be front-and-center at the Governor’s office. The Governor shared his personal history with snails and his appreciation of our native kāhuli as an important and imperiled part of our Hawaiian ecosystems.

Click to see more photos | Watch the event

Year of the Kāhuli proclamation


Mahalo to all of our kāhuli partners for making Year of the Kāhuli possible!

Year of the Kāhuli proclamation


Learn More About Hawaiʻi’s Land Snail Conservation Programs

Visit our partners at the Bishop Museum Malacology Program to learn about their research and conservation efforts, as well as their shell collection and biodiversity data.

For information about the Snail Extinction Prevention Program within DLNR Forestry & Wildlife, click any of the links below.

An image of an Achatinella lila linking to the "About SEPP" page.
An image of an Achatinella lila linking to the "Meet the Staff" page.
An image of an Achatinella sowerbyana linking to the "Our Work" page.

An image of a Partulina virgulata linking to the "Meet the Snails" page.

An image of a Jacksons chameleon linking to the "Threats to Snails" page.

An image of a Newcombia cumingi linking to the "Kāhuli in Hawaiian Culture" page.

An image of an Achatinella decipiens linking to the "Found a SEPP Species?" page
An image of an Achatinella livida linking to the "Help Save Our Snails" page.
An image of an Achatinella lila linking to the "Learn More" page.