Confidence – Fire
Red Junglefowl, Koke‘e State Park, Kaua‘i, Hawaii
alkyd oil & egg tempera on gessoed panel, 16 x16 inches, $2,500.00
The first Polynesian settlers brough the moa, or red junglefowl to Hawai‘i centuries ago, so technically they are considered an introduced species. The controversy is whether or not the current populations are considered descendants of the original birds and thus subject to conservation and protection to preserve the first settlers culture or are they just escaped chickens and not deserving of that protection. A recent genetic study has turned up interesting and complicated results. Turns out that the population on Kauai has a lot of genetic diversity, with genes of both domestic and wild origin. Domestic chickens are the most numerous bird on the planet but the wild red junglefowl are considered threatened throughout much of their native range in Asia. Kauai’s feral birds represent a gene pool that could conserve wild red junglefowl and improve domestic breeds. The Moa may be declared a feral pest and subject to eradication or it might become a model to try and understand the process and consequence of an introduced species becoming feral. One thing is sure though, the Red Junglefowl rooster is one confident bird who is master of his domain, especially at the time of the rising fiery sun.