Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Nepal's Extinct Bird, Not

It took 178 years, but a group of bird-watchers discovered a Nepalese bird considered extinct. The bird was embarrassed about his absence because it is the red-faced liochichla (Liochichla phoenicea) declared by Australian Geographic to be locally extinct in the wild.  The birders responsible for the find were on ten day tour to Nepal.  The bird is widely distributed throughout Southeast Asia. These lesser 'resurrections' of species once considered extinct are not uncommon. About a third of mammals thought to be extinct have been rediscovered, thirteen of which are Australian natives.  For example a small population of Gilbert's potoroo, a marsupial that looks like a guinea pig with a long nose, was rediscovered in in Western Australia in 1994 after a hundred year absence.  Nevertheless, rediscoveries are important because they give scientists an opportunity to study a poorly known species, and perhaps intervene to help it survive in the wild. Nepal is home to 878 species of birds about twenty percent of which are threatened with extinction according to the London Zoological Society.