Samoan Woodhen Gallinula pacifica (Hartlaub & Finsch, 1871)
- RMNH 110.046: Savai, Samoa. Collector: Kubaty; Exchanged with Museum Godeffroy.
- RMNH 110.060: stuffed. cat.1. Savai, Samoa Islands. Kubary collection. Museum Godeffroy, 1874.
The Samoan Woodhen was discovered in 1869 by Johann Kubary, a collector for the Godeffroy Museum in Hamburg, who shot two birds on Savaii, one of the Samoan Islands. The two Leiden specimens were purchased at about 1874 from Godeffroy, which, apart from running a museum, was also dealing in natural history objects. Around that time the species disappeared. From the price payed for one of the two skins, 1500 Silbergroschen, it is clear that the dealers were well aware of the rarity of the bird. According to the labels, both Leiden specimens were collected by Kubary, but this is very unlikely, since he had left Savaii in 1870. The Leiden skins are certainly not the two he collected in 1869. Presumably they were obtained by another naturalist working for the Goddefroy Museum. Apart from the specimens in Naturalis, only eight skins can be found in natural history collections.
More than a century after its alleged extinction, a possible sighting of this rail was reported in 1988, but this could not be confirmed. The Samoan Woodhen has always been rare. Like other island rails, it fell victim to rats introduced by ships. Native hunting may also have been a factor in its extermination. William Thomas Pritchard, the former British Consul to Fiji, in 1866 gave an extensive description of the 'Punai', the local name for this rail. He noted that the birds were "excellent eating".