“It’s like finding a unicorn.” An extraordinary discovery after 140 years

“It's like finding a unicorn.”  An extraordinary discovery after 140 years

Scientists from the American Society for the Protection of Birds found a representative of a rare species. This is the first sighting of this unusual bird in 140 years.

The last time a black-throated pheasant was seen was in 1882, and it hasn’t shown itself to scientists since then – until now. The amazing discovery occurred in September this year, when the bird was captured by one of 20 cameras hidden on Ferguson Island in Papua New Guinea.

They found a bird that had not been seen for 140 years

The search lasted a month and more “hunting” for an endemic bird, also included conversations with local residents and even conflicts with pirates. – It was like searching for a unicorn – said John Mittermeier, one of the expedition leaders.

The breakthrough came when scientists reached the highest peak of Ferguson Island on the western slope of Mount Kilkerran. – There we met hunters who saw and heard a black-throated pheasant – said Jason Gregg, co-leader of the escapade. The information provided by an island resident was helpful.

The man encountered the bird several times on steep slopes and in the valley, and even heard its characteristic calls. Thanks to his tips, hidden cameras were set up and a few days before the end of the search, the animal was photographed. Scientists also published a 10-second video showing the bird parading in front of the camera.

The black-necked pheasant is endangered. How to prevent this?

“When I was looking through the camera photos, I was stunned by the one in which this bird was walking so close,” recalled the Cornell University researcher. There is not much information about the black-necked pheasant species, but scientists believe its population is not large and may be dying out. Information gathered during the search can prevent this from happening. – This is the kind of moment that a nature conservationist and bird watcher dreams about all his life – admitted John Mittermeier.

The September attempt was not the first attempt at finding the black-throated pheasant. In 2019, scientists tried to track it down, but they failed to find any traces of the animal. The start of the search in 2022 seemed to be as fruitless as the earlier expedition.

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