Nene Geese

The Nene goose, native of Hawaii was on the brink of extinction with only 30 birds left when their plight came to the attention of Peter Scott.

Our story starts back in the 1950s on Hawaii, with a little goose that was on the verge of extinction. Many years ago, living on a Hawaiian island didn’t involve having to deal with land predators, so the nene evolved as a friendly and inquisitive bird and it’s estimated that 25,000 used to inhabit the islands. But with the arrival of Europeans in 1778 and the introduction of predators like dogs, pigs and mongoose, life changed forever for the curious and trusting nene. Its numbers plummeted and by 1952 there were only 30 left.

Its plight captured the attention of WWT founder, Sir Peter Scott. He was determined not to let the species die out and brought a pair back to Slimbridge.

After a few teething problems (both birds turned out to be female) and the arrival of a gander, one of the greatest conservation success stories began.

In 1962, 35 birds born and raised at Slimbridge arrived in Hawaii to be released back into the wild. They were released across four sites on the main island and one site on Maui. Now, over fifty years since the birds were re-introduced, their numbers are above 2,000. In 2014 the first pair were spotted on a third island, having made their own way there.

It was Sir Peter Scott’s passion, determination and innovative thinking that enabled him to bring a bird back from the brink of extinction in the face of all odds.

Nene Goose

8 Comments CherryPie on Sep 7th 2023

8 Responses to “The Story of the Nene Goose”

  1. What a great story! I love tales of conservation successes, although they are much smaller in number than extinctions

  2. To my shame, I have never heard of the Nene Goose. Thank God for people like Peter Scott. It is horrifying how many species have become extinct relatively recently.

    • CherryPie says:

      I hadn’t heard of the Nene Goose either. An enthusiastice WWT employeed that told us the conservation story as we entered the area where the geese reside. If she hadn’t I might well have walked past them without a detailed glance.

  3. Shabana says:

    such a beautiful story of a lovely bird who was saved and regrown wow

    thanks for sharing

  4. Aw, I love stories like this!

    I just went looking for what happened to them during the recent Maui wildfires, and I couldn’t find much about the nene in particular, but I did find where they were able to save many vulnerable and endangered bird species, including the “akikiki” which were already on the verge of extinction – whew!

    Apparently, the nene goose is now “vulnerable’ rather than “endangered,” thanks to conservation efforts like Peter Scott’s. Go conservationists!

    • CherryPie says:

      In addition to their national habitat the Nene geese were also introduced in protected areas such as golf courses where there are no preditors allowing the geese more chance of survival.