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Counting Parrots in Guyana Because They Count on Us

Rewa, Guyana October 14-24, 2017

On the Rewa River (photo by Marc Johnson)

Rewa Lodge

Located at the confluence of the Rewa and Rupununi rivers in Guyana is a remarkable village of 306 people with five indigenous languages spoken along with English. They have developed an industry of ecotourism centered on an ecolodge that brings economic choices to the people. They have chosen to protect a huge swath of Guyana and the beings within.

Rewa School Children Displaying Their Parrot Conservation Commitment

They are most noted for their Arapaima conservation recovery project, where the fish now has higher population numbers than 20 years ago. They conduct counts of the fish and monitor the impact of sports angling on this particular species. They were primed for our invitation to see if we could partner with them in monitoring and protecting their parrots.

Motorized Casual Count

Fixed Point Offical Count Along the Rewa River

The story we repeatedly heard while in Guyana for three weeks was that in the 1980's most of the parrots were "trapped out," meaning that they became scarce because so many were removed from the wild and sold for the pet trade to the USA and Europe. Now that both of these regions have halted importation of wild parrots, the decreasing market demand has allowed some populations to recover in areas where villages have said "no more trapping." However, even in villages that say they don't trap, they also tell us that some trapping happens. Parrots remain coveted for domestic pets, and the international community still places a high demand on certain species, such as the macaws, the talking amazon parrots, and the sun parakeets. In reality no one knows beyond anecdotal evidence the status of parrots in Guyana, one of two remaining countries in Latin America where trapping is allowed and parrots are exported (neighboring Suriname being the other). Our goal was to see how we could assist the Guyanese in understanding, cherishing, and preserving their parrots.

Up River Camp at River Burst

With that in mind we began counting parrots our first evening in Rewa, after visiting Karasabai. We were fortunate that Davis Edwards and Rudolph Edwards from the village joined our group. They took to parrot censusing like they had been doing it for years (and our hope is that they will be doing it for years!). Every morning and evening, and often during the day, we conducted single point counts, fixed transect counts, motoring casual counts on the river, and floating official counts. Over nine days we amassed a lot of data, which you can find on eBird in the near future. In summary we saw 15 parrot species in the Rewa region, for a total of 1,758 sightings, and in all of Guyana (concentrated in the villages of Karasabai, Rewa, Yupukari, and the Botanical Gardens in Georgetown) we saw 19 species for a total of 3,148 sightings.

Blue and Yellow Macaws Eating Palm Fruit on the Rewa River

We also saw wonderful sights along the river, including, but not limited to, rainbows, tapirs, giant river otters, a goliath bird eating spider, and a pink-toed taruntula (photos below with special thanks to Marc Johnson for the two spider pictures).

Our most important accomplishment was building the capacity and commitment amongst us all for counting in this river habitat for the future. We will continue the work in the Rupununi/Rewa region, so we can understand any population trends here, which can then be compared to other regions in Guyana.

Most of Our Counting Crew at Rewa (Danika, Karen, Travis, Dicky, Davis, Michael, Marc, Rudy)

Thank to team Rewa for your expertise, your commitment, and your generosity towards beginning a project together.

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