Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Birds Of Paradise
With the trained eye of a scientist, Tim Laman captures the behavior of the world’s most rare and extraordinary birds
Local knowledge played a large role in helping Laman document all of the birds, and local support will be crucial to conserving the forests that both the birds and the people rely on for survival. Of the 39 species of birds-of-paradise, only three are considered threatened with extinction, but seven others are approaching that status, having been classified as "near-threatened" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. Preserving the forest habitat that all of the birds-of-paradise need is paramount for their future.
"The good news is that there's still a lot of rain forest in New Guinea," says Laman. "But the pressures on the forests are increasing rapidly as supplies of timber run out in other places like Borneo and Sumatra. Logging companies from Malaysia and China are now coming to New Guinea, and what we've been seeing in the last 10 years is a huge increase in road building, logging, mining and clearing the forests for palm oil plantations."
Laman and project partner Edwin Scholes are teaming up with conservation organizations, both at the local and international levels, to use the photographs and videos they have created to showcase the birds-of-paradise as flagship species for the region. The hope is to encourage landowners and governments to preserve a network of nature reserves to ensure the survival of the birds. And by protecting habitat for the birds, many other species benefit, too, including the people who have lived within the forest and alongside its creatures for millennia.
"I'm pretty optimistic because we're ahead of the curve with birds-of-paradise conservation," says Laman. "We just have to make sure it stays that way."
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