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Kanahā Pond State Wildlife Sanctuary



Kanahā Pond is one of two major wetland habitats on Maui and was set aside in 1951 as the first wildlife sanctuary in the islands. In historic times it was a considerably larger set of two royal Hawaiian fishponds known as the twin ponds of Kapi‘ioho, constructed over 200 years ago by Kapi‘ioho‘okalani, King of Maui. Half of the original fishpond was changed between 1881 and 1954; when it was filled with rubble from dredging during the construction of the nearby harbor. The remaining pond was greatly altered while it was under military control during World War II. 86 bird species have been documented there, but Kanahā Pond is critical nesting and foraging habitat for the ae‘o (Himanto mexicanus knudseni, Black necked stilt) and the ‘alae ke‘oke‘o (Fulica alai, Hawaiian coot). These two Hawaiian endemic water birds move between Kanahā Pond and Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge (a Federal sanctuary designated in 1992) on the west side of the island).

The Division of Forestry and Wildlife maintains a fence to exclude alien/introduced predators such as cats, mongooses, rats and alien grazing animals such as deer and pigs. DOFAW staff also outplant native plants to provide cover and food for native birds and insects.

Short trails are accessible from the northeast side of the pond (Amala Place) from August 31st to March 31st, but when the birds are usually nesting (April to September), these trails are closed. The small parking lot and paved walkway to the viewing shelter on the west side of the pond (Keolani Place) are open year-round, from sunrise to sunset daily, providing a window into wild, native Hawai‘i in the middle of the busy town of Kahului.