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Liberating Wings: Stopping the Poaching Now!

Join us on the path to liberating all

by stopping the poaching now

People often tell me that I have a dream job that includes traveling to Latin American countries and seeing large rainbow parrots fly over my head, the warm air causing them to soar along with my joy. It is a wonderful privilege, but it is also a great burden. In every country in which I work, I hear stories of chicks lost to poaching, and children unable to escape the poverty, corruption, drug trade, and violence of their communities. My heart is full of beauty and wonder, while also breaking. My body feels the stress of being overwhelmed, and it's like someone kicks me in the gut when I hear almost every day, and often several times a day, stories and evidence of how parrots lose their chance to fly, have families, and flourish.

Poaching tears young chicks from their nests and families and dooms them to a life of clipped and often broken wings, poor nutrition, and isolation. Let's not let what happened to Rosa (two broken wings and two broken legs, see below) happen to any more!

​I have an urgent sense that the poaching must stop, now, though the trapping of wild parrots for the pet trade has gone on for a long time. Much of this trapping spiked in the 1980's when the demand for pet parrots in the USA increased dramatically. Thousands of parrots were taken from their homes every year, from each country, and the lucrative trade, although now illegal in the USA, remains entrenched today in many countries. In all but one country in Latin America (Guyana) it is illegal to poach wild birds, though it continues in a challenging context of nearly complete impunity, weak state presence, intimidation, and violence, threatening communities’ current and future opportunities for sustainable development. In many areas in which we work the poaching is 100% - no chicks escape the illegal wildlife trade. Estimates are that 90% of all chicks will die within their first year during transport or in their first homed year. This results in a tremendous loss of life and suffering beyond measure, and much of the forces that result in the wildlife trade are also rendering human communities bereft of opportunity, safety, and health.

​Whom do we nourish? How do we choose? By helping the people of Latin America, you are helping the birds and the forest, and yourself. When you help the birds, you are helping the forest and the people. Liberating one is liberating all.

​​Because both parrots and people are in peril in these countries, One Earth Conservation has promised to improve the lives of parrots and people in the Americas. We follow through on this promise by acting upon our foundational conservation vision:

​​​One Earth Conservation stands in solidarity and witness to threatened parrot populations and the marginalized human communities that protect them, and through consultation and capacity building, we aim to stabilize and recover parrots while contributing to the overall health of human individuals, organizations, and communities in Latin America.


​​​One Earth accomplishes this through these goals:

​​To stop the negative impact of poaching on individual parrots and species in Latin America.

​To grow capacity in avian conservation medicine and parrot conservation in Latin America.

​To improve the lives of homed parrots in Latin America.

​To instigate and then initially support parrot conservation projects in the most needed areas.

Needed areas are defined as:

​Where there is very little to no parrot conservation efforts or capacity


​Where communities are marginalized due to socioeconomic factors


​Where there are endangered birds

​Where we can have the most impact for our size​

​Where there is little funding​​​

Our projects in Central America (for more information see our Annual Reports)

​To turn around this situation, we need to dream big and make dramatic changes to our relationship with the earth and each other. Please dream with us and join us on the journey - everyone can take some of the following small steps that we invite you to take.


​1. Nurture yourself and ask others to nurture you so you have the resilience for this work.​

​2. If you have parrot, or have ever enjoyed one that is far removed from their country of origin, be it in a zoo or on a television show, your joy is tied in with a long history of harm and suffering. The very first trafficked birds out of Latin America went back to Europe on Columbus's ships. Before then, indigenous people of the Americas traded, bred, and kept macaws in captivity to harvest their feathers and to sacrifice them. Do not let this over tax you with guilt, but instead let this guide you in loving the beauty and promise of the birds ever more deeply so that you can tell the story to others, so that together we can do something BIG!

​I am enjoying these recently liberated endangered yellow-headed parrots in Belize. Though I love them close to me, they need to fly free and wild so they can repopulate their decimated pine forests. I use my love for them not to captivate them, but to let them captivate me.

​3. What is this BIG thing? Liberate yourself as you liberate parrots - let's Stop the Poaching, Now! We need to help countries where the parrots come from not keep them in their homes, or trap them so that others can keep them in their homes. It is just another form of privileged colonization, however, if we say it's okay for us to have pets in the USA or Europe, but that Latin Americans cannot have them. It's like saying, "We took your parrots so we could have them. And now that you don't have too many left, you can't have them."

​I am not saying to give up your birds in your homes, or to feel bad about it. Only to do something about it! Help the people of Latin America not poach their birds. You can do this by making amends for having or enjoying parrots. Give back to Latin America by promising to do something for the wild flocks and the indigenous people who have lost so much. One way you can do this is to help financially. For example, for every parrot you have loved, donate what you paid for the bird to a project where the people and parrots are helped simultaneously. If you still have the bird, donate 10% of the cost to care for that bird to a conservation project. In this way you are connected to the reality of the birds and how much you care for them, and have taken steps to heal our relationship with wildlife life by making reparations to the lost flocks and peoples of Latin America.​

Your donations employ conservationists, many who were once poachers, and give them the choice to save and cherish their native birds. With a little help from us, these people and communities can make a difference in their own land (Ometepe Island, Nicaragua - Yellow-naped parrot project with the LOCOs)

​​4. Donate to One Earth Conservation and help us Stop the Poaching, Now! Every dollar you donate for our conservation programs helps us support community patrols that can keep chicks in their nests where they belong. Supporting community patrols also gives people economic choices, so that they don't have to poach, or so they have the ability to resist the complex network of poachers, middlemen, and international traffickers who collude to poach every being within their grasp. Donated funds are also used to promote widespread conservation public relations/education projects that are needed in these countries and to support government agencies to confiscate and then liberate birds that have been poached. We also use funds to visit families with homed birds so that we help them better care for their birds, understand them, and become aware of the consequences to the birds' native flocks of their choice to home parrots.​

​​In summary, our conservation work includes community patrols; increasing government capacity to protect, confiscate, and liberate poached parrots; education and consciousness raising activities; supporting rescue and liberation centers; ecotourism; education and training of conservationists; and improving the life of homed parrots. These plans also rely on you!

​​Donate today and together let us heal the earth and one another, uncaging ourselves from our past, and liberating our joy to fly free with the many others, in peace, and abundance.​​ And thank you for your contribution.

​​Here is our team in La Moskitia, Honduras in February 2017. We have been camping out in an area that belongs to the indigenous people, but is under threat from narco-deforestation. Though there are risks and hardships, the community conservationists celebrate when they can, as do we.

​​5. Celebrate your, and our, success. In two years in Honduras we went from having not one scarlet macaw chick escape the wildlife trade to having no chicks entering the trade. From 2016 to 2017 we doubled the number of nests we are monitoring and protecting, making the Honduras Miskito Apu Pauni (Miskito for scarlet macaw) effort the biggest macaw community protection project in the world! Our success was due to team work, being in relation with the families and communities that are poaching, and asking them what they would like to do. We come with a promise to work for 25 years in each region, for we know that is the minimal amount of time it takes. With a mutual commitment and desire that all people and parrots flourish, we together organize a conservation plan that is always adapting to on-the-ground circumstances. Conservation is an art and a science. It is a creative process that connects us to one another and the winged life around us. By liberating birds, they liberate us. May liberating wings so grace your life.

​They who bind to themselves a joy

​​Do the winged life destroy

​But they who kiss the joy as it flies

​​Live in eternity's sunrise (adapted from William Blake)​

Video of Dr. Joyner explaining the perils of parrot poaching, and the mission of One Earth Conservation

(adapted from William Blake)

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