The Kahikinui Project on Maui Launches Kickstarter Campaign
The Kahikinui Project on Maui launches its Kickstarter campaign today as it aims to harvest invasive animals from leeward Haleakalā for food as part of a larger reforestation effort.
Owners of Maui Nui Venison say over 500,000 pounds of wild protein needs to be removed in order for reforestation to be successful–protein that they say would otherwise be culled and wasted.
The first stage was the installation of fencing along 4,500 acres of forest. The second phase is the removal of nearly 2,000 invasive ungulates–cattle, deer, goats and pigs–within the conservation area.
Under the project, a vast majority of these animals will be harvested as a healthy source of food for the Kahikinui community and larger communities in need throughout Hawaiʻi. Funds raised will also support awareness for Hawaiʻi’s watersheds.
Over 7,000 acres of koa forests are located in the upland area above Hawaiian Homestead tracts. These forests were once among the most robust and diverse in the entire island chain, supporting an abundance of native plant and animal life. Over the last 150 years, ranching in the region has led to systematic deforestation due to overgrazing that has reduced forest cover to less than 10% of its former extent, none of it intact.
Project organizers say the introduction of invasive ungulates has had devastating effects on Hawaiʻi’s watersheds. The Kahikinui Project was created to address the community’s want for an alternative to typical management practices that would see these animals culled and wasted.
“Considering the human role in the animals’ introduction and the intrinsic value in all living things,” Project leaders say they aim to “shift the view of these animals from feral problem to food resource.”
“Kahikinui’s immense and free-roaming herds of animals offer up an untapped source of healthy, lean, and truly wild protein,” according to organizers.
The funds raised will assist with food distribution to the Kahikinui community, local food banks, as well as thousands of households throughout the islands. Kickstarter revenue will also be used to fund the planting of thousands of native trees to trigger spontaneous recovery of the koa canopy and other plant and animal life throughout the forest.
With the help of Maui Nui Venison, the project will be able to utilize this resource in order to reward each Kickstarter pledge with a jerky product.
“In short, the Kahikinui Project hopes to create viable and local food based in conservation –forest-first food –with the potential to connect people to natural resources and the efforts to protect them like never before,” organizers said.
The team consists of: Maui Nui Venison co-owners Jake and Kuulani Muise, and Kimo and Min Tuyay; and field experts Michael Ritte, Keahi Camara and Kelsey Tsuchiyama.