The bear necessities
Thousands of koala bears have been killed by the huge wildfires in Australia.
One of the latest fires near Sydney has burned more than 12 million acres, which is an area almost twice the size of the whole State of Hawaii.
Australia has been particularly hard hit by the effects of climate change. Record temperatures and dry weather have made many regions a tinder box, and it appears this will only get worse. The endangered koala bears are in the cross-hairs of the next inevitable fire. As much as a third of the population is feared lost.
The plight of these adorable creatures stirs emotions around the world. Unfortunately, one of those emotions is helplessness, because the problem is so immense.
Perhaps there is a bright spot in the future of the koala bear, and it is right here on the Big Island of Hawaii. The Hamakua Coast has thousands of acres of eucalyptus trees, the leaves of which just happen to be what koala bears eat. It would be worth exploring the possibility of establishing a reserve for the koala bear in the forests of Hamakua or Kohala. A breeding colony of the bears in Hawaii would create an isolated population to safeguard continuation of the species, not only from fire but other calamities such as an invasive disease or parasites.
Apart from being a gratifying thing to do for residents, having a koala bear forest could be an asset for the visitor industry on the east side, as well.
East Hawaii more often attracts people who would describe themselves as “naturalists.” Admission to hiking trails for “bear watching” might just pay for the program itself over time. There are a lot of positives to a program such as this, but perhaps the best is the opportunity to do something noble in a world that seems increasingly out of control.
Of course, this will take a lot of research and planning, but every journey begins with the first step.
Aloha in 2020
Aloha is the standard in Hawaii, a value that allows for a healthy, sustainable community, and it’s what I love about being born and raised here.
I remember how different it was growing up, how we did not lock our doors, and everyone waved as they drove by, something that has changed about our island home today.
As we head into 2020, let’s bring out the best kind of aloha in ourselves and each other, supporting friends and family however and wherever they may be, like the old days of our kupuna who gave all their aloha, yet only to have it taken and commercialized and commodified for a dollar.
Let us reclaim their authenticity and genuine concern for our neighbor and give of ourselves right where we are, no matter how much money we have. It’s not about money, it’s about being generous of heart.
We each can make a difference, whoever we are. Our kupuna have taught us this.
To our leaders, please be sure that your priorities are right by truly serving the people of Hawaii who work hard to make ends meet while traffic and crime get worse and housing prices force us into homelessness or leaving the islands altogether. We count on you to be the standard bearers.
In 2020, we need bold leadership built on pono policies that represent the people and not just the politics and those who have money. Please put more focus on the elderly, the disabled, the poor and those in need, for we know that a society is judged by how they treat the most vulnerable among them.
Aloha is the key, and it can truly be a force for positive change in 2020 and beyond.
Hau‘oli Makahiki Hou! Have a happy new year, everyone.
Shana Wailana Logan