Guide to Hawaii wildlife stresses animal welfare
It discourages nature lovers from intruding
The just-published "Hawaii Wildlife Viewing Guide" points to good places to see Hawaii's marquee animals -- without disturbing them or their environment.
Unlike some for-profit guidebooks that might encourage nature lovers to visit places that can't handle the human impact of large numbers, the book emphasizes responsible sight-seeing that puts the animals' welfare first.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Author Jeanne Clark and Jim Mallman, executive director of the nonprofit group Watchable Wildlife, will help launch the "Hawaii Wildlife Viewing Guide" this week.
Sunday: 10 a.m., Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park, Kailua-Kona (808-329-6881); 4 p.m., Ritz Carlton Amphitheater, Kapalua, Maui (808-669-2440)
Monday: 1 p.m., Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai (808-828-1413)
Tuesday: 2 p.m., Native Books/Na Mea Hawaii, Ward Warehouse (783-2612)
On the Net:
» To see preview pages of the book and or for more information, visit www.hawaiiwildlife.org.
The guide (Adventure Publications, paperback, 180 pages, $14.95) is the 44th in a series of state wildlife guides from the nonprofit organization Watchable Wildlife.
Organized by island, the book assumes you're on a driving tour and want to stop at places where you can see animals in their element.
The book is directed at visitors but has enough information to be of interest to locals who might have overlooked what's in their own back yard.
Living here, we sometimes forget that Hawaiian monk seals and many native Hawaiian birds can be seen nowhere else on Earth. Or that the familiar green sea turtle, or honu, is a threatened species and the mighty humpback whale is endangered.
"A state like California has hundreds and hundreds of wildlife species," author Jeanne Clark said this week in a telephone interview from her Newcastle, Calif., home.
Hawaii, instead, has a relatively small number of creatures big enough for the nonscientist to see -- in fact, our only two native mammals are the elusive Hawaiian hoary bat and the endangered monk seal. But Hawaii is a bird-watchers' paradise, and "you do have highly reliable places to see endangered species," Clark said.
So her book points the way to Kilauea Point on Kauai for a likely sighting of honu, Poipu Beach for a glimpse of a monk seal or Oahu's Makapuu Point for whale-watching.
Bird-watchers come from around the world to see Hawaii's unique birds and end up amazed that "forest birds in jewel tones of red and yellow" can be seen on the Big Island's Saddle Road without leaving the car, Clark said.
Or that in Kailua you can see several endangered waterbirds in a marsh adjacent to a bustling shopping center.
Over the past couple of years, Clark visited each of the 31 sights listed in the book, making sure information she'd gleaned from literature was accurate. But Clark credits the authenticity of the book to her collaborators -- Hawaii-based experts working for state, federal and private conservation organizations who gave her information and read proofs of the book.
The book is not a field guide, but it does include detailed illustrations of some key species by local artist Patrick Ching, nice photos of landscape vistas and a few close-up photos of birds.
Clark credited Nature Conservancy biologist Sam Gon III with providing information on native Hawaiian culture and legend as they relate to wildlife.
The book frequently refers to wildlife viewing ethics and gives real-world tips, such as reminding hikers to clean their boots and shoes before and after entering sensitive areas so they don't bring in alien plant seeds.
"We were concerned about visitors who might get information online, so we suggest how to choose a responsible tour operator," Clark said. "We tell readers if they care about dolphins and fish, to choose a tour operator that respects federally delineated limits for viewing."
Part of any book profits will be returned to the Hawaii Watchable Wildlife Committee, to use for maintaining and upgrading interpretive signs planned for the sites.
After this week's book launch -- which includes book signings and information sessions on Kauai, Maui, the Big Island and Oahu -- one copy of the book will be distributed to every public library in Hawaii, Clark said.