Martha´s lesson

1 September 2014

Today is the anniversary of Martha´s disappearance. This pigeon died in Cincinnati zoo (USA) a hundred years ago. Who cares?

Image of the passenger pigeonMartha was the last existing passenger pigeon on the planet. With her disappeared a species that was the most abundant bird in North America, and probably in the world! The flocks formed during migrations were incredibly large, even hiding the sun for three days in some towns. It is estimated that its population was between 3 and 5 billion birds. But the settlers destroyed their habitat and hunted it so massively to commercialize their meat, that they were exterminated in the wild in just four decades.

This long tailed and winged pigeon was very different from others both in aspect and behaviour. Scientists called her Ectopistes migratorius, since it wandered forming migratory flocks in search of deciduous woods in which to feed, mainly on acorns, chestnuts and beechnuts. Taking into account that it was the only member of the genus Ectopistes, the biodiversity loss is even worse.

The passenger pigeon symbolizes how greed and indifference can finish with a species within a short period of time, no matter how abundant it is. Remembering Martha is an invitation to reflect on putting limits to human greed and to raise awareness of the loss of the planet’s biodiversity.

Its memory reaffirms Fragas do Mandeo commitment to the conservation of our region´s natural heritage, thinking globally and acting locally. On a day like today, we encourage you to take a step forward with us on behalf of nature.

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