This is the Hawaiian goose, Branta sandvicensis or more commonly known as the nene and it is beautiful.

There is no rarer goose in the world and at one point during the 1950s was perhaps one of the rarest animals. In 1952 there were only 30 individuals in the world. That is a ridiculously and horrifyingly low number and the future looked very bleak. Not only was the number so small that it seemed such a huge mountain to overcome if they were to have a chance of producing a stable population, but any population would be incredibly inbred and the gene pool would be very limited.

This species became severely endangered due to introduced predators and habitat loss, which is all so unfortunately common for many island species.

However a conservationist in England named Sir Peter Scott, with his multiple reserves, was determined to play an important part in the arduous journey of saving this species. Primarily based in the Slimbridge reserve, the first UK bred nene were introduced back into Hawaii in 1962.

In 2019 their story is quite different from that 60 years prior. There are now more than 1,000 of the birds in the wild on the islands; Maui and Kauai, with even more birds in captivity.

This photo was taken in 2011 before you complain.

Does this positive and inspiring story give us hope for so many countless species whose futures are as or even more bleak than that of the nene’s during the early 20th century? I hope so, we are losing species after species every minute of every day. We cannot get these back, millions of years of countless generations and evolution to create unique plants, animals etc and they disappear in a heartbeat before our very eyes. This should give us confidence in saving more.

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