The Hawaiian Islands historically have suffered the most extinctions, earning it the tragic title of Extinction Capital of the World. Hawaii’s native birds and their habitats are under siege from climate change, invasive species and diseases.
More than one-third of all U.S. endangered bird species occur in Hawaii and 71 bird species have gone extinct since humans colonized the islands in 300 AD.
Scientists see islands as a harbinger of things to come on continents, where extinction occurs at a slower rate. Most island birds evolved on remote archipelagoes, so they are extremely vulnerable to foreign plants and wildlife introduced by humans, the onslaught of new predators, habitat degradation, and novel diseases. In the last five centuries, 87% percent of bird extinctions worldwide have taken place on islands. The addition of climate change threatens to spread mosquito-borne diseases and dry out forests thus increasing the risk of fires.
Palila is a critically endangered Hawaiian Honeycreeper with a vibrant yellow head, a strong finch bill, and a melodious call. Found only on the upper slopes of the largest mountain in the world, Maunakea, Palila declined from 6,600 birds in 2003 to 2,200 in 2008. As of a 2019 census, only 1,000 birds are left. Conservationists have worked tirelessly to restore Palila’s mamane-naio forest, eliminate predators and invasive species, fence critical habitat, reduce fire threats to the forest, and raise captive-bred birds to boost populations. In 2019, the San Diego Zoo and Mauna Kea Forest Restoration Project coordinated the release of Palila to the wild.
In 1979, Palila became the first animal named plaintiff in a court of law. A private citizen and attorney from Earthjustice sued the State of Hawaii for negligence in maintaining wild sheep and goats in Palila critical habitat. A stuffed specimen represented as lead plaintiff in federal court, "Palila v. Hawaiʻi" became a landmark environmental case. Using the newly created Endangered Species Act, the Palila and its allies won, establishing the legal definition of "harm" to a species; destruction to a species' habitat is equal to killing the animal itself. Nearly 40 years later, the case remains open and threats to Palila's survival still remain.
We are racing against the clock to tell this powerful story of how efforts to save one bird can save, not only it’s own, but prevent the extinction of other vulnerable species. Our film's mission is to inspire audiences to care about vulnerable flora and fauna in their backyards, and find their own personal connection to Nature. Through our Native Hawaiian characters, the film highlights indigenous perspectives about Hawaiian ecosystem restoration, sustainable stewardship and land management.
A Paradise Lost is cute, thoughtful and quirky story about a brave bird for kids and their families to enjoy. The animation is a magical way to feel connected to the main character Anuenue and hear their relationship with humanity as ultimately a positive, hopeful one. People of all walks of life all around the world can experience the beauty of the sacredness of Hawaiian forests and will find light within this little bird symbolizing what is possible.
A Paradise Lost is proud to partner with local and national organizations dedicated to the education and preservation of our natural world. Check out our official partners by clicking their logos below.