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  • Writer's pictureBecky Faulks

Excited Scientists Capture First Image of Rare Bird Not Seen for 140 Years

The Black-Naped Pheasant-Pigeon was spotted on Fergusson Island in Papua New Guinea


Vital as it is for the future of our planet, the road to conservation is a rocky one, and the rewards can be few and far between. That’s why successes like this one are so meaningful – when they happen, the world wants to join in and celebrate.

That’s exactly what happened when scientists John Mittermeier and Jason Gregg decided to lead an expedition to Fergusson Island in search of the elusive black-naped pheasant-pigeon. They met with hunters and locals, who claimed to have caught sightings of the bird and hearing its calls. The critically endangered species has not been documented for 140 years, with deforestation largely to blame. Concerns for the bird and its habitat have been shared by conservationists for many years.

The team set up cameras in the area, but after such a long absence, hopes for a sighting of the pheasant-pigeon were not high. Jordan Boersma, postdoctoral researcher at Cornell, was on the expedition and admitted he'd predicted a less than a one percent chance of getting a photo. But despite the odds, the team were astonished to find that the bird they were seeking had in fact walked over to the camera traps. Mittermeier said the experience was ‘like finding a unicorn’, and local bird expert Doka Nason described himself jumping around and yelling after realising their mission had been a success. Congratulations to the team and best of luck ensuring the safety of this incredible animal.




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