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NENE } Branta sandvicensis

RANGE: Maui, Kauai, Hawaii

STATUS: This bird is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN World Conservation Union.

THREATS: Hunting, introduced predators

Also known as the Hawaiian goose, the nēnē is descended from the Canadian goose, which probably migrated to the Hawaiian islands 500,000 years ago — shortly after the islands were formed. It evolved strong, padded toes with reduced webbing that help it move swiftly over Hawaii’s rough terrain, including lava plains. Though believed to have once been common, the nēnē is now the rarest goose in the world due to hunting and introduced predators like small Asian mongooses, pigs and cats. Thanks to the direction of leading conservationist Sir Peter Scott, along with its ability to breed well in captivity, this bird was brought back from the brink of extinction in the 1950s to 800 birds reintroduced into the wild by 2004.

Photo by Glen Smart, USFWS