Anthony J.G. Tornito

The Guam Rail Bird Has Returned To The Wild After Being Extinct For 40 Years

A bird that has been completely extinct from the wild for almost forty years now has a thriving population on two tropical islands.

The Guam rail inhabits a 212-square-mile island in the Pacific Ocean, "halfway between Australia and Japan," according to CNN.

The Guam rail, locally known as the 'koko,' was originally listed as extinct.

Natalie Leung | CNN

However, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) 2019 red list of threatened species listed the Guam Rail as "critically endangered" rather than extinct as of this year.

The only other species of bird to make this comeback is the California condor.

The Guam Rail was originally wiped out by brown tree snakes.

Ginger Haddock | Fernbird Photography

The snakes arrived shortly after World War ll, while Guam was occupied by the Japanese military. The brown tree snakes were responsible for wiping out 12 of the 14 bird species native to the island.

Thanks to years of captive breeding and selective releasing, the island of Rota is now home to 200 Guam rails, with another 60 to 80 live on Cocos Island (off the southern tip of Guam).

IUCN Acting Director Grethel Aguilar expressed hope for the bird's population in a recent press release.

Anthony J.G. Tornito

"[The news] offers a spark of hope in the midst of the biodiversity crisis," she said, "And proves that nature will recover if given half a chance."

Suzanne Medina, one of the wildlife biologists with the Guam department of agriculture who has been working to save the Guam rail, hopes that her team's efforts will continue to pay off:

"I would love to see the 'koko' back in the wild on Guam," says Medina, "Most importantly, I'd like my son and all the children of Guam to be able to see them too."

h/t: CNN