BEACON TRANSCRIPT – An ethical debate sparked among scientists after a rare bird was found and then killed for the sake of conservation, after half a century of not being seen. The beautiful Moustached Kingfisher is an incredibly rare sight, and it has seen to part of the community raging when it turned out a researcher chose to kill it for the museum and study.
‘Collecting’, or more crudely known as taking the lives of animals for research, is nothing new. Many have claimed themselves to be highly against the practice, while others cite it as a necessary means to a beneficial end. Perhaps science could help the species by sacrificing a few. However, it should be noted that the practice isn’t well received when it comes to rare animals.
The splendid blue and orange Moustached Kingfisher was barely glimpsed in the wild once, with one female specimen found in the 1920s, and two other females brought to collectors in the 1950s. A male of the species has not been studied, so its history and details have been lacking. Aspiring to just see one was deemed ‘unrealistic’.
However, director of the Pacific Programs at The Museum of Natural History, Christopher Filardi, managed to achieve just that. The researcher set nests across the Guadalcanal island and managed to find the a male specimen of the rare species. He then took a picture, and killed the bird for the sake of further study.
The decision has caused an uproar in the scientific community. Some harshly critique Filardi’s actions, as a cruel and perverse act. They stated that the bird could have been pictured, recorded, and the studies could have continued from simple blood or other samples. Many question the decision on why such a rare bird was not allowed to live.
According to PETA Senior Director, Colleen O’Brien, it’s a “tired, and nonsensical, self-serving claim” that scientists should continue to kill animals for the sake of studying them. Especially with such so rare, like the Moustached Kingfisher.
A professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Marc Bekoff, has also criticized the practice. He has stated that killing animals for the benefit of science should stop, as it sets a horrible prospect for the future and an even worse example for children. Conservation biology is “too bloody”, and it seems like a counterproductive way to preserve a species.
Filardi, on his own account, argues that this could provide massive scientific information on how to preserve the bird’s environment. He has stated that he certainly did not take the decision lightly or impulsively. Instead, he carefully debated the issue with his mentors and took into consideration the sanctity of the bird’s lands.
With this specimen, he claims they can provide ample details and could pave the way for “molecular, morphological, toxicological, and plumage studies” that would not have been available in simple blood samples. He states that his find could further science and help the birds that are now between 250 and 1,000 left on the entire planet.
However, it remains to be seen where the debate lands. And, furthermore, it will likely be closely followed if the slayed Moustached Kingfisher will help its species or become a mere trophy find for the museum.
Image source: audubon.org