For centuries, the tribesmen of Papua New Guinea have used bird of paradise feathers to make elaborate costumes for their sing-sings ( left). These local festivals are gatherings of a few tribes or villages to showcase their distinctive cultures and keep traditions alive. The two biggest are the Goroka and Mount Hagen shows that draw crowds from all over the world. They are a riot of colour, with each tribe presenting its particular body painting, songs, dances and displays of feathered headdresses and neck adornments. Dancers mimic the courtship displays of the birds – making the feathers shake and bounce.
When David Attenborough first saw a sing-sing he exclaimed on how many birds must have been sacrificed to decorate the dancers. But, these days, many costumes are preserved and handed down from one generation to the next. Some birds are still hunted but with hunters taking older males and sparing the younger breeding-aged ones.