Lionel Walter Rothschild (1868-1937)

Bill Bryson, in A Short History of Nearly Everything (2003) Chapter Thirty:

“…Rothschild was easily the most scientific collector of his age, though also the most regrettably lethal, for in the 1890s he became interested in Hawaii, perhaps the most temptingly vulnerable environment Earth has yet produced…

The tragedy for many Hawaiian birds was that they were not only distinctive, desirable and rare – a dangerous combination in the best of circumstances – but also often heartbreakingly easy to take. The greater koa finch, an innocuous member of the honeycreeper family, lurked shyly in the canopies of koa trees, but if someone imitated its song it would abandon its cover at once and fly down in a show of welcome. The last of the species vanished in 1896, killed by Rothschild’s ace collector Harry Palmer…”

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