• The bird, a black-naped pheasant pigeon, was last documented in 1882
  • It was located on Fergusson Island off eastern Papua New Guinea
  • Scientists believe that the pheasant population is threatened and declining

A rare bird believed to be extinct was rediscovered in Papua New Guinea after 140 years.

The bird, a black-naped pheasant pigeon, was captured on camera after tedious efforts by a team of scientists and conservationists. It was reportedly last documented in 1882.

The team failed to spot the bird during their 2019 expedition, following which they decided to undertake another expedition in 2022. When the team arrived at villages on the western slope of Mount Kilkerran, "[There] we started meeting hunters who had seen and heard the pheasant-pigeon," conservation biologist and expedition co-lead Jason Gregg said, according to BBC.

The breakthrough came when a local hunter claimed to have seen and heard the elusive long-lost bird on Fergusson Island off eastern Papua New Guinea.

The discovery was the result of innumerable interviews with locals and 20 camera traps.

"When we collected the camera traps, I figured there was less than a 1% chance of getting a photo of the black-naped pheasant-pigeon," Jordan Boersma, co-leader of the expedition, said, reported 1News. "Then as I was scrolling through the photos, I was stunned by this photo of this bird walking right past our camera."

The month-long search for the bird finally came to an end with the team capturing some stunning footage of the bird.

"Seeing those first photos of the pheasant-pigeon felt like finding a unicorn," John Mittermeier, the other co-leader of the expedition, said. "It is the kind of moment you dream about your entire life as a conservationist and birdwatcher."

Scientists believe that the pheasant population is threatened and declining even as very little is known about the species. The team expressed hope that the collected data will prove useful in deepening their knowledge of the species and protecting them from further extinction.

Through a strange turn of events, the expedition team on their way back from Fergusson to Normanby had to outrun pirates which are quite common in the area, a spokesperson for the Rewild project said, as per BBC.

While on the topic of birds, a new study has found that there are mental health benefits to watching and listening to birds.

"Everyday encounters with birdlife were associated with time-lasting improvements in mental well-being," researchers wrote in the study. "These improvements were evident not only in healthy people but also in those with a diagnosis of depression, the most common mental illness across the world."

The passenger pigeon. JOEL SARTORE/National Geographic Creative