Motto for Conserving the Endangered Sun Parakeet in Guyana
Neither low rivers, nor lack of roads, nor heat, nor gloom of poaching stays these conservationists from the long haul completion of the appointed protection of sun parakeets.
The elusive sun parakeets on the river
In March, One Earth Conservation partnered with Foster Parrots to work a week at Karasabai Village, which borders the savannahs of Guyana and the mountains of Brazil. We had been there 5 months earlier and knew we had to return due to the precarious status of the endangered sun parakeet. We went there to be in solidarity with the village, which is committing to protecting the sun parakeet.
Our survey team on the river (Fernando Li for Yupukari, Andrew Albert from Karasabai,
and Davis and Rudy Edwards from Rewa)
Part of our work there was to survey as much as the terrain as possible to determine the number of parakeets in the area. Reports from various people indicate maybe as many as 2,500 birds are left in Brazil and Guyana, or perhaps as few as 300. This species needs an accurate survey to see how many remain and to determine the trapping pressures on this species and measures to combat it.
The Ireng River was so low we had to get out of the boat and walk up the rapids so the
boat wouldn't bottom out. We had to do this several times on the way up.
It would have been worse upriver so we couldn't survey all the birds during this visit.
We surveyed from sunrise....
We were at our count spots even after dark
(Andrew Albert pictured, lead conservationist in Karasabai)
And those long days starting at 3:30 a.m. begin to add up (pictured: Danika Oriol-Morway)
Our hammock camp along the river
We surveyed the Ireng River and the area around it, selecting several transect points (spots to count birds) by boat, truck, and motorcycles on foot trails. We were unable to survey the entire area due to time constraints and the low river. Our count of birds ranged between 109-151 distinct individuals. We need to return to do an extensive survey, ideally two times per year (when the river is high in July and also when the parakeets are nesting in January). We are currently working to raise funds so we can help the villagers conduct these surveys.
We always have to use a rock to anchor the boat in the middle of the river
(in this case as we place one transect point nearby)
Other transect points were on the riverside
While there we talked with the villagers who had been poaching the birds, and unfortunately, learned that some still are. Also, reports indicate that the poaching is even more extreme on the Brazilian side. These birds are in a very dangerous situation due to their low numbers and the ongoing trapping, which has to stop now.
Other transect points were inland. For this we relied heavily on Fernando's truck
to get us where we needed to go, and to help us look good.
It is a given that during all surveys, it doesn't count as conservation work
if you don't get at least one flat tire.
The villagers realize that their bird is in trouble, and have made plans. They are completing their own sun parakeet eco-lodge to support their efforts and also hope to train and mount ranger patrols this coming breeding season. They will continue to work with neighbors to discourage trapping, as they have done in the past. Any conservation effort is a 25-year project, often with setbacks. We will be with them during this process cheering them on, and providing resources, expertise, and passion for them and their parrots.
The interior of the villagers' new lodge
Please consider helping us return in the fall of 2018, as One Earth Conservation did not anticipate taking two trips to Guyana this year. Given the urgency of the situation we feel we have to go, so the parakeets will remain. Thanks for your help!
Parakeet Patrol of Karasabai
This was one of the easiest stretches on the foot trail to our survey transect point along the river. I'm out of the picture wondering how this is going to go in the dark of the night when we head back...