2023: Year of the Kāhuli
2023 is officially the Year of the Kāhuli, proclaimed by Governor Josh Green on February 23. 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 Events
DLNR Forestry & Wildlife and Bishop Museum will be rolling out activities at a snail’s pace to help you celebrate kāhuli throughout all of 2023. Here’s what’s happening now, what to expect later in the year, what’s already pau.
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.
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.
New classroom poster: Land Snails of Hawaiʻi
We’ve been thrilled to hear from educators across Hawaiʻi who have requested our kāhuli stickers for their students or taken their classrooms on our virtual field trip to the Snail Lab. As Year of the Kāhuli comes to a close, we’ve created a new poster to help keep kāhuli in your classroom into the future.
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. Just email us at [email protected] with a mailing address.
Want more ways to decorate your classroom with native species? We have more posters on our Education page featuring wetlands, plants, nēnē, pueo. Let us know which ones you’d like and we’ll include them in the same shipment as your kāhuli 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kāhuli in the 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.
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.
Mahalo to all of our kāhuli partners for making Year of the Kāhuli possible!
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.