Long Lost Warbler Rediscovered in Thailand

The large-billed reed-warbler has reemerged in Thailand after 140 years of disappearance.© Philip Round/The Wetland Trust

While the story may not have gotten as much hype as the alleged rediscovery of the ivory billed woodpecker last year in Alabama, ornithologists and birdwatchers the world over are excited about finding a large-billed reed-warbler in Thailand. The species was last seen in 1867 in India, and over time ornithologists began to doubt whether it was a unique species or just a genetic aberration of the larger reed-warbler family. But the recent discovery, and subsequent DNA testing and comparison, confirms that the large-billed reed-warbler is indeed a unique biological species of bird.

"Almost nothing is known about this mysterious bird," says Stuart Butchart of the non-profit BirdLife International. He adds that the discovery means that birders will be on the lookout for more individuals of the species across Myanmar, Bangladesh and Thailand. "A priority now is to find out where the large-billed reed-warbler’s main population lives, whether it is threatened, and if so, how these threats can be addressed," he says.

The reappearance of a wildlife species thought to have gone extinct long ago could be called "a feather in the cap" for the global environmental movement—and offers a glimmer of hope for other lost species. But the discovery of the large-billed reed-warbler also puts additional responsibility on governments, companies and individuals to step up efforts to restore land and habitats in Asia and beyond.

Source: Bird Life International

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