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Protecting the Sun Parakeets in Karasabai, Guyana

Double rainbow over Georgetown airport right before we board plane to Lethem

Karasabai Village, Guyana borders Brazil on the Ireng River. A contingent of parrot conservationists from Foster Parrots, One Earth Conservation, and the Cheadle Center for Biodiveristy and Ecological Restoration (University of California, Santa Barbara) went there to see how we might be in solidarity with the people and parrots of this region. We began in Georgetown and flew a small plane to Lethem, and then rented a truck to Karasabai, where we knew we could find the endangered sun parakeet.

Town center honoring their wildlife (above) and Ecolodge under construction (below)

Our goal was to locate the sun parakeet and assess other species of parrots, which meant conducting several formal and casual bird counts. On the first morning we found our target species and after that drove over the region and boated up and down the river to see a total of 22 distinct sun parakeet individuals. We also found roosting areas of this species, as well as a red and green macaw roosting site and a yellow-crowned roosting site with over 112 individuals spending the night in the center of the village behind the school. Both of these latter two species are not listed as endangered, though we heard time and time again while in Guyana that these birds are trapped and are a demand species for the wildlife trade.

Passing the rapids on the Ireng river with Guyana on one side and Brazil on the other

Parrot conservationists Travis Moonschein, Michael Schindlinger, and Danika Oriol-Morway in front of the school, which is also a yellow-crowned parrot roost site

Villagers engaged in counting parrots

Here are our bird counts (minimum number of distinct individuals in the area):

Green-rumped parrotlets 10

Brown-throated parakeets 50

Sun parakeets 22

Yellow-crowned amazons 112

Red and green macaws 26

Red and green macaws flying during counting

Brown throated parakeet during count

Rainbow over mountains around Karsabai. Rainbows graced our journey nearly every day.

While there, we met with the village elders and chief and together we decided to start an official sun parakeet conservation project. This will include support for ecotourism, education and consciousness raising, accurate population monitoring, and nest monitoring and protection.

Pleased group of villagers and visiting conservationists agreeing to protect the parakeets

Although there is some sense that the population might be growing, this has not been confirmed. In addition we heard that 16 sun parakeets were poached this year, which the villagers confiscated and later released. With the pressure from the wildlife trade for this species, we feel it is urgent that we collaborate with the people of this village so that the presence of the sun parakeet never sets into the dark night.

There are more sun parakeets in captivity around the world than flying free in the wild (photo by Takashi Hososhima)

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