Birds of Paradise

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By Sherry Zhang

Known for their elaborate mating dances and exquisite colorful feathers, the birds of paradise—not to be confused with the flower bird of paradise—are a family of beautiful birds commonly found in New Guinea and its surrounding islands. Unfortunately, due to human activities and overhunting, the birds of paradise face endangerment; some, the possibility of extinction.

Although areas like New Guinea are predominantly covered in tropical rainforests, human activities, such as deforestation, destroy habitats to clear way for agriculture and logging. Furthermore, because of the world’s increasing population and high resource demands, deforestation will only worsen in the future, further threatening the birds of paradise. Moreover, certain birds of paradise are only discovered in specific areas of the forest and deforestation in that area will result in their extinction. Detrimental, human activities like deforestation will only threaten the bird of paradise population and their future generations.

In addition to deforestation, overhunting also endagners the birds of paradise. Prized for their elegant feathers, the birds of paradise are frequently sought after by the wealthy. After the Europeans first discovered the birds of paradise in 1873, they hunted the birds for their plumage to use as decoration. As a result, the population of the birds of paradise was greatly reduced. To protect the birds, the United States and many European countries placed a ban on the importation of bird of paradise feathers. However, their efforts cannot stop the indigenous people of  New Guinea from hunting the birds and using their feathers for headdresses and other decorations. 

To protect the birds of paradise, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia should world together and create a network of rainforests designated as sanctuaries for the birds of paradise and other threatened species living in New Guinea. The sanctuaries would be free of all forms of human activity. In regards to the indigenous living in New Guinea, both countries’ governments should inform the natives about the importance of wildlife conservation and negotiate limits on hunting birds of paradise. To ensure the survival of some of the world’s most beautiful birds, the birds of paradise need to be protected.