Long praised for their splendid plumage, birds of paradise are a rare sight only to be found in the remote rainforests of New Guinea and associated islands. They are among the earliest animals to have the inglorious honour of obtaining legal protection against their trade. While the trade in the species is more than a millennium old, it was only in the late 19th century that globalisation pushed some bird of paradise species towards extinction.
In this episode, Dr Jude Philp, Senior Curator at the Chau Chak Wing Museum, explores the dark history of the trade in birds of paradise, the destruction of their habitat, and the ways in which local people have tried to protect the species.
About Dr Jude Philp: As Senior Curator of the Macleay Collections at the Chau Chak Wing Museum, Jude Philp is interested in stimulating research into the collections and increasing the purposefulness of museum holdings through exhibition, research, and events. Jude's current research is in the world of 'British New Guinea' and the 19th-century practice of natural history for museums. She recently published Recording Kastom: Alfred Haddon’s Journals from the Torres Strait and New Guinea, 1888 and 1898 (2020, Sydney University Press) in collaboration with Anita Herle. In 2021, Jude will publish a chapter entitled ‘Circulations of Paradise (or How to Use a Specimen to Best Personal Advantage)’, in the book Mobile Museums: Collections in Circulation (2021, University College London Press, edited by Felix Driver, Mark Nesbitt, and Caroline Cornish).
For more information or to browse additional resources, visit the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre’s website here.
Dr Natali Pearson is Curriculum Coordinator at the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, a university-wide multidisciplinary center at the University of Sydney, Australia. Her research focuses on the protection, management and interpretation of underwater cultural heritage in Southeast Asia.