If you’re familiar with avian species, you might know about the black-naped pheasant-pigeon, a sizable terrestrial pigeon predominantly found in the rainforests of New Guinea. Unfortunately, due to deforestation, this species is facing a decline. While the green and grey-naped pheasant-pigeons aren’t deemed threatened, the white-naped pheasant-pigeon is categorized as vulnerable. In contrast, its black-naped counterpart is critically endangered and hadn’t been scientifically documented for 140 years.
However, in September 2022, a breakthrough occurred when a team of researchers captured footage of the black-naped pheasant-pigeon strutting around Fergusson Island, the largest of the D’Entrecasteaux Islands in Papua New Guinea. Covered mainly by rainforests with three large volcanoes, this island served as the rediscovery site by expedition co-leaders John Mittermeier and Jason Gregg. The researchers consulted with hunters and village locals, who claimed previous sightings and distinct calls of the black-naped bird.
Relying on the locals’ information, the researchers set up cameras in the described location with low expectations. Postdoctoral researcher Jordan Boersma expressed skepticism, estimating less than a one percent chance of capturing the black-naped pheasant-pigeon on camera. However, to their astonishment, the bird appeared on the scene as they scrolled through the collected photos.
The team’s elation was captured in a viral clip, showcasing the researchers holding hands, stamping their feet, and exclaiming their joy at the «happiest moment ever.» Despite the rediscovery and capturing footage of this endangered species, the black-naped pheasant-pigeon remains critically endangered. Researchers emphasize the cultural significance of preserving this bird, which holds a special place in local legends and culture. The potential extinction of this species could result in the loss of its cultural importance and the role it plays in the ecosystem.