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article imageScientist kills rare bird that's been lost for more than 50 years

By Kesavan Unnikrishnan     Oct 15, 2015 in Environment
A New York Museum research team discovered a "ghost" bird that hadn't been seen in half a century in the remote highlands of Solomon Islands’ Guadalcanal. Then they killed the bird to collect as a specimen for additional study.
Dr. Christopher Filardi, director of Pacific Programs at the American Museum of Natural History, discovered the male moustached kingfisher on the island of Guadalcanal, in the Solomon Islands in mid-September after searching for more than 20 years. After his discovery,the team documented the rare bird — taking the first known photographs of the incredibly rare and beautiful creature. Then they euthanized it and prepared the bird as a scientific specimen.
The incident served as a flash point for a debate and divided the entire scientific community, with some scientists arguing that collection can hurt an endangered species; others argue that collecting scientific specimens is a necessary step in pursuing long-term conservation aims.
Colleen O'Brien, Senior Director at PETA argues:
To search for and find an animal of a rare species -- an individual with feelings, interests, a home, and perhaps a mate -- only to kill him is perverse, cruel, and the sort of act that has led to the extinction of other animals who were also viewed as 'specimens.All that was needed to document this rare bird was compassion, awe, and a camera, not disregard and a death warrant.
However, Filardi, who headed the team, claimed that though the bird was rare to outsiders, it was “unremarkably common” for the region’s local people and collecting a specimen was a normal practice for researchers like him.
He wrote in his blog.
There is also a deeper reasoning here.The value of good biodiversity collections lies partly in the unforeseeable benefits of those collections to future generations: Detection and understanding of the impacts of marine pollutants, eggshell thinning from DDT, and anthropogenic body size shifts in widespread species are examples of the power of natural history collections.
The moustached kingfisher known as "ghost bird" was first seen in the 1920s, and two more female birds were collected by local hunters in the 1950s.
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