A biologist found the first ever reported male moustached kingfisher after 20 years of effort, photographed it and then killed it for experiments
“It was a “gorgeous, strong and raucous” male. “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.“
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These are the words of a biologist Chris Filardi of American Museum of Natural History who spent his 20 years in the dense forest of Solomon Island for locating a bird of rare species; Mustached Kingfisher. Some two weeks ago, he finally found the first male mustached kingfisher while surveying endemic wildlife in Guadalcanal. He and his team photographed it and then euthanized it for the sake of scientific experimentation.
The killing of a rare bird in the name of so-called conservation triggered a heating debate. A British bird-watcher Charlie Moores criticized Filardi and said.
“Filardi’s weak justification attempts to explain why science trumps common sense, decency, or morality.”
"It is a tired and nonsensical, self-serving claim that you must kill some animals in the name of research so as to study them enough to save them." PETA Senior Director Colleen O’Brien said in a statement.
These and many other statements forced Filardi to justify his decision and to explain why he caught a rare bird from Kingfisher species and then killed it.
“This was neither an easy decision nor one made in the spur of the moment,” said Filardi. “Our recent fieldwork was not just about finding the Moustached Kingfisher. This was not a “trophy hunt.”
“The multi-disciplinary expedition that resulted in the collection of the kingfisher was designed with two interconnected purposes: documenting poorly known, threatened ecosystems, and advancing a conservation strategy for the vast central uplands of the island.”
“I will be returning to meet with Solomon Islands government officials to outline next steps. The expedition was part of the beginning of a partnership, not an end.”
Moustached kingfisher has an estimated population of over 4000 individuals. But there have been very few sightings of the bird to date, and none of them had been male. Only three confirmed cases of spotting female specimens of kingfisher have been reported up till now, one in 1920s and two in early 1950s.
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Moustached Kingfisher lives in very specific and hidden habitat and chances of seeing it alive again are very little. In Filardi’s own words “Given its history of eluding detection, realistic hopes of finding the bird were slim.”