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Travel & Leisure

Pandemic helps restore nature in Hawaii, changes tourism

Participating in conservation is becoming a part of the travel experience

Sunset at Hapuna Beach on the west coast of the island of Hawaii, world-famous for its beauty. (Photo by Akira Takemura)

TOKYO -- At Loko Waka fishpond, a stone's throw from Hilo International Airport on Hawaii Island, nature guide Kumiko Hasegawa has been working hard to make it a habitat for aquatic birds again. She began the effort after all her tours were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and she suddenly found herself with plenty of time on her hands.

Hasegawa once spotted the native bird ae'o (Hawaiian stilt) in the pond about a decade ago. The species is now on the brink of extinction because its habitat is shrinking. She said she instinctively felt it was her mission to bring the birds back to the pond, whose sides were covered by invasive grass.

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