Martha – an Endling’s Tale
BBC Radio 4, Tue 10 March 2015, 11.02am (rpt Mon 16 March at 21.02)
When Europeans arrived in America there were some 3-5 billion Passenger Pigeons. The last one, a bird named Martha died in captivity in 1914. A century on, wildlife filmmaker, writer and broadcaster, John Aitchison reflects on what lessons we have learned from the birds’ demise and explores the possibility of bringing the passenger pigeon back from extinction using genomic technology and a living relative, the band-tailed pigeon. It’s a fascinating and sobering journey. As John says when he comes face to face with Martha, “Extinction is a terrible thing”.
Wildlife sound recordings by Chris Watson, Producer Sarah Blunt