East Hawaii News

Palila Showcased in Mural in Downtown Hilo

April 4, 2014, 5:19 PM HST
* Updated April 4, 6:17 PM
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The public is invited to downtown Hilo at 6:30 tonight to celebrate a mural showcasing one of Hawaii’s rarest birds.

The mural featuring a palila was painted by local artist Kathleen Kam. It is located on the side of the Hilo Loan Shop building at 64 Mamo St., next to the downtown KTA store.

The effort is part of the Mauna Kea Forest Restoration Project, a collaboration of the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit of the University of Hawaii.

The mural measuring 9 feet by 12 feet is depicted in the style of a 1940s-era fruit crate label.

“It was the perfect fit in its simplicity and aesthetics, and familiar to Hilo’s agricultural community,” Kam said. “This mural’s visual information, which is fueled by a singular message to save a native species, will endure beyond its intrinsic value.”

Palila are an endangered member of the Hawaiian honeycreeper family. They are the focus of conservation efforts on the slopes of Mauna Kea, the sole surviving habitat for a population estimated at between 1,300 and 1,700 birds.

Forty-five miles of sheep-proof fence have been erected as court-ordered efforts to remove sheep on the mountain continue, the DLNR said in a press release.

The sheep are being removed because they feed on the shoots of the mamane tree, which account for 90% of the palila’s diet.

The conservation efforts include the planting by volunteers of more than 80,000 mamane seedlings since 2010.

The Mauna Kea Forest Restoration Project has also created a 30-second public awareness video narrated by actor Jason Scott Lee.

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