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Parrot Poaching Must Stop Now, and We’re Doing It!

From my 30 years of working on parrot conservation in Latin America, I find that with the majority of parrot species, especially the more charismatic species, the illegal wildlife trade is the gravest threat. A recent paper, “Current threats faced by Neotropical parrot populations,”

for which I was one of many authors, confirms that I share this understanding with many other parrot conservationists.

Liberating scarlet macaw chicks to the wild in September 2017

Because of this, One Earth Conservation focuses on stopping the poaching, now by liberating wings. This is no easy task for the challenges are many. Even so, we and our partners do not desist from the endeavor to preserve what we cherish.

With enough grit, perseverance, honest and empathetic relationships, and probably a bit of luck, we can decrease the poaching, even dramatically. Recently we have been astounded with the success in La Moskitia, Honduras. There the local villagers have mounted a community patrol program, along with nest monitoring and established a Rescue and Liberation Center to curb the loss of their birds.

In 2014 no wild scarlet macaw chick escaped the illegal wildlife trade in our conservation area around the village of Mabita. Both in 2016 and 2017, no chick from monitored and protected wild nests entered the illegal wildlife trade. We have probably saved over 100 scarlet macaw chicks from a lifetime of captivity, effectively increasing the wild population by 20%.

The governmental agencies keep bringing confiscated parrots to the Rescue Center, which is a good thing, but also has it's challenges

A key ingredient in this success has been the involvement of the governmental regulatory and protection agencies, such as ICF (Forestry Service), the military, the indigenous federation FINZIMOS, and the Pt. Lempira police (thank you all!). They have gained momentum in part because for the last two years we have a functional and reliable Rescue and Liberation Center.

The first great green macaw to be brought to the Rescue Center

Just last week, these agencies brought yet again another batch of endangered parrots that had been confiscated, including our first great green macaw. We are so pleased to offer these birds a chance to fly free.

Our challenge now is to amplify our resources, because we have so many birds that we have to immediately build new cages, both for holding the birds and for training them for release.

I invite you to be part of our continued success. Please join One Earth Conservation’s team in La Moskitia by donating your time and resources. We plan to enlarge our protected territory in 2018 by a considerable amount, and we need you to be part of this effort. What if we really could stop all poaching, now?!

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