Dr. Kear, Assistant Director of the Wildfowl Trust and Curator of its Martin Mere Reserve, and Professor Andrew Berger of the University of Hawaii, have written a timely and absorbing account of the recent history of the Hawaiian Goose, or Nene, its descent to near extinction, its eleventh hour rescue and current restoration to the wild.
The species declined from an estimated population of 25,000 in Hawaii in the 18th century to less than fifty birds in the 1940s. Today, thanks largely to the extended breeding programs at Slimbridge and Pohakuloa, there are probably more than 2000 Hawaiian Geese in the world.
The achievement is justly applauded and well-known, but whether this impressive experiment in conservation has been truly successful will not be clear until it becomes evident that the released birds can maintain a breeding population in the wild. As the authors explain, the outcome is far from predictable.
The causes which led to the species' decline and the hazards and difficulties faced by the reintroduced population are discussed at length, but the core of the book is the propagation program at Slimbridge and Pohakuloa, and the problems and successes they brought during many years of patient work.