Haleakalā National Park Rangers Recover Poached Silverswords
On Monday June 25, 2018, Haleakalā National Park Law Enforcement Rangers and Maui Police Department recovered rare Haleakalā silversword plants or “ahinahina” that had been removed by a visitor from Haleakalā’s summit.
At approximately 4:30 p.m. yesterday, a park visitor witnessed an individual removing two “keiki” (juvenile) silversword plants from the ground and placing them in her clothing before leaving the area in a vehicle.
The witness took a picture of the vehicle and immediately notified Haleakala National Park staff who then notified National Park Service Law Enforcement. Park rangers were able to locate the individual in Paia Town about an hour later with the plants.
The rangers identified the poacher and driver of the vehicle and released both from the scene. At this time charges are pending against both individuals.
Park biologists will attempt to replant the recovered silverswords. “We were lucky to have the assistance of a dedicated visitor,” said Haleakalā National Park Chief Ranger Ari Wong. He added: “These plants are already so rare, picking them is illegal for a very good reason. Our most important job here in the park is to protect species like this.”
The Haleakalā silversword (Argyroxiphium sandwicense subsp. macrocephalum) is federally listed as Threatened and found only on the slopes of Haleakalā at altitudes above 6,900 feet. Visitors are encouraged to take pictures of these rare plants, but are reminded that removing or damaging them is a federal crime.