A scientist who killed a rare Moustached Kingfisher has sparked an uproar among animal protection groups.
Christopher Filardi, who works for New York’s Museum of Natural History, was on the Island of Guadalcanal, when he encountered a bird which hadn’t been spotted in half a century.
Upon making this surprising discovery, which he had been expecting for more than 2 decades, he promptly killed the creature, in order to study it more closely. Afterwards, he took to the museum’s Twitter page, in order to announce his deed proudly to the world, illustrating it with photos of the “ghost species”.
Filardi tried to justify his actions in the name of science, claiming that it was all part of a frequently employed practice known euphemistically as “collecting”.
Currently, there are around 250 to 1,000 adult Moustached Kingfishers left in the world, and little is known about the sounds they produce, or their overall behavior and characteristics. Therefore, according to the controversial scientist, taking one bird could only help further research in this area, yielding significant benefits.
As he explained, killing the avian creature has given experts “a comprehensive set of material for molecular, morphological, toxicological and plumage studies”. According to him, this information couldn’t have been gathered by analyzing photographs, blood samples or feathers.
Moreover, as he insisted, while sightings are infrequent in the ornithological community, the species locally called Mbarikuku is actually “unremarkable common”.
As a result, assessing that the bird’s population and habitat aren’t endangered, he decided to “collect” the only male specimen of this species that had ever been identified throughout history.
Needless to say, as news of the scientist’s decision reached animal rights activists, it left them outraged, and PETA even issued a statement condemning Filardi.
“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”, explained PETA Senior Director Colleen O’Brien.
According to her, the decision to slay a member of a rare species after carefully tracking it is nothing short of “perverse and cruel”.
Instead, the sighting could have easily been documented with a camera, instead of collecting the bird like a trophy. In fact, perpetrating and condoning such cruel acts is why so many animals which have been considered “specimens” have eventually become extinct.
In response, Filardi has stated that his decision was difficult to take and well thought out, but it is common practice for field biologists. According to him, slaying the rare bird was not a “trophy hunt”, but an unpleasant necessity, in order to document biodiversity and advance scientific research.
Meanwhile, some have continued to qualify Filardy’s choice as brutal and inexcusable. The act was even compared to Walter Palmer’s killing of Cecil the lion, another controversial case which stirred up public opinion in July.
Back then, the Minnesota dentist who was also a recreational big game-hunter paid $50,000 so that he could be assisted in hunting a Southwest African lion. The unsuspecting animal was lured out of the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, and afterwards he was wounded with a high-powered crossbow.
Eventually, after being tracked for 40 hours he was shot with a rifle, skinned and decapitated. Despite the fury this case has stirred, Palmer hasn’t been charged with any crime, because it was established that he had a legal hunting permit.
Image Source: AMNH