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Mawar further endangers Guam’s critically endangered Ko'Ko

Updated: Aug 6, 2023

A volunteer from American Humane holds a Ko'Ko bird. Photo courtesy of American Humane via Facebook

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

The critically endangered ko’ko’ bird now teeters on the brink with just 74 left, according to American Humane, which currently has a team deployed on Guam to augment the Department of Agriculture’s post-Mawar recovery efforts.

"There are 74 birds in captivity as part of the research and breeding program. Those were the birds we were helping while in Guam," said Judy Palermo, spokesperson for the group.

In a Facebook post, American Humane said its rescue mission is facing an urgent challenge, disclosing that damaged conservation fences have left the railbirds exposed to predators.

“Our team is on the ground, making vital repairs and laying the groundwork for more permanent measure,” the American Humane said, urging the local community to support the efforts to preserve the bird which is endemic to Guam.

For nearly 40 years, the Ko'Ko' had been extinct in the wild after being decimated by the invasive brown tree snake.

In 2020, the Ko'Ko' was successfully re-introduced in the wild. It has been recategorized from “extinct” to critically endangered.


The team is collaborating with the Department of Agriculture Animal Health division and working alongside animal control officers and have been on-site since July 24 and will work through Aug. 2.

The tasks are focused on the safety and well-being of the displaced animals throughout the island. "American Humane rescue team members are

helping with animal rescues, reunifications and animal control issues including stray dogs," the group said in a press release.

“I’m so proud of our team working tirelessly in Guam in the wake of the devastating typhoon Mawar, the largest storm in more than two decades there,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president & CEO American Humane.

“Amid the chaos, are animals in need, voiceless and vulnerable. We’ve rescued many dogs and are also working for permanent measures to help the island’s endangered Ko’ko’ bird, an endemic species to Guam that teeters on the brink of


Efforts to reunite pets with their families are also underway, the group said.

According to the agriculture department, the joint effort aims to ensure the safety and well-being of the animals after Typhoon Maawar which hit Guam on May 24, leaving a trail of destructions around the island.

The rescue team comprises highly trained specialists in disaster response who bring a wealth of experience in managing post-disaster animal relief operations, having been involved in numerous disaster response missions, the department said.


“Through this collaborative effort, the team aims to equip the officers with new field techniques and specialized equipment, empowering them to enhance their skills and capabilities in handling future animal welfare-related issues,” the department said.

American Humane has provided hands-on animal welfare equipment training for animal control officers.

“They have also fashioned field equipment and donated supplies to help diversify the officers’ field techniques. In the field, they are working with animal control officers to locate animals displaced by the typhoon, as well as animals with medical needs and those that pose safety concerns to the community,” the department said.

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