An American research team tracked down a rare bird, took the first ever photograph of it, and shortly killed it thereafter last month.
Chris Filardi, director of Pacific Programs at The Museum of Natural History, is defending his choice to slaughter the bird which he says was ‘collected as a specimen for additional study.’
The male moustached kingfisher is found only in the Solomon islands and specifically one called Guadalcanal where Filardi was ‘surveying endemic biodiversity and working with local partners to create a protected area, ‘ according to a Facebook post Filardi made from the American Museum of Natural History page on September 24.
Filardi writes about how he was in awe at spotting the bird after hearing its signature ‘kokoko-kiew’ call. ‘When I came upon the netted bird in the cool shadowy light of the forest I gasped aloud, “Oh my god, the kingfisher.” One of the most poorly known birds in the world was there, in front of me, like a creature of myth come to life. We now have the first photos ever taken of the bird, as well as the first definitive recordings of its unmistakable call,’ wrote Filardi in the post before killing the winged creature.
Ecologists have criticized what they say is an ‘unnecessary slaying’ of a rare bird for conservation purposes. Dr. Filardi argues that studying the dead bird could provide vast scientific knowledge and could protect the birds for years to come.
This was not a ‘trophy hunt,’ he said, adding that the bird was captured, ‘during a groundbreaking international, multi-disciplinary biodiversity survey of the uplands of Guadalcanal Island in the Solomon Archipelago that was led by Pacific islanders.’
He said that the bird was not ‘rare or in imminent danger’ but that it was ‘poorly known and elusive to western science.’
According to Birdlife International there are just between 250 to 1,000 mature birds in the region it inhabits which classifies it as ‘endangered.’
Dr. Filardi said that to the locals the bird is very common but that’s only in that specific region.
‘With this first modern voucher of the kingfisher, the only adult male, we now have a comprehensive set of material for molecular, morphological, toxicological, and plumage studies that are unavailable from blood samples, individual feathers, or photographs,’ wrote Dr. Filardi.
‘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,’ he added.
Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, wrote a counter opinion for The Huffington Post.
‘When will the killing of other animals stop? We need to give this question serious consideration because far too much research and conservation biology is far too bloody and does not need to be.
‘Killing ‘in the name of conservation’ or ‘in the name of education’ or ‘in the name of whatever’ simply needs to stop. It is wrong and sets a horrific precedent for future research and for children.’