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Nicaragua, Here I Come!

LoraKim and a fellow conservationist in Honduras.

I am so excited to be going on my first trip ever to Latin America. I’ll be joining LoraKim and nine other North Americans from December 2 to December 9 to visit Ometepe Island on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua. We will learn about wild parrot conservation and have the opportunity to assist LoraKim and her partners in Nicaragua with some of their fieldwork. It’s the adventure of a lifetime for me and, I suspect, for my fellow travelers too!

LoraKim is currently in Honduras conducting conservation work with the yellow-naped amazon, which is a highly threatened parrot in that country. She will be stopping back in New York later this week before heading off to Nicaragua, so she’ll have more to say about her work in Honduras in next week’s blog. We will be working with the same species in Nicaragua, where they are also highly threatened. In Nicaragua, she is working with two local partners, Loreros Observando y Conservando en Omtepe (the LOCOS) and Flora and Fauna International, on understanding the status of these parrots on Ometepe Island and to get a base estimate of their population numbers there. Working with partners from local communities and other organizations, no matter what country we are in, is key to the success of any parrot conservation project.

One of the two volcanoes on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Ometepe Island has one of the densest, if not the densest and most numerous populations of this species, in all of its range. One Earth and its partnering organizations are involved in nest monitoring and protection there, as well as education, awareness raising and community enhancement activities. Last year they discovered something amazing, which is that the birds are breeding much earlier than anywhere else in their range, which is a scientific marvel. The hard news is that these birds are getting poached for the illegal wildlife trade. That is the reason why their populations are threatened.

In Honduras, LoraKim and her colleagues all arise at 3:30am (I’m SO looking forward to that in Nicaragua…not!), walk in the dark through mud, bugs and flooded fields, and finally return to camp for a quick dinner and sleep in a hammock before doing it all over again. Being the soft North Americans we are, our crew will luckily get to sleep in hotel beds in Nicaragua and LoraKim tells us that the terrain is less harsh at Ometepe.

The reason conservationists get up so early is to be able to count birds, which is always the first step in their conservation. To create a conservation plan, we first need to know if any are even there and, if so, how many. You could say that we count the birds because they count on us.

Juvenile yellow-naped amazon

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