LoraKim Joyner being filmed by a videographer hired by the the US Fish and Wildlife Service as she checks over a wild macaw chick in Honduras
Demand for macaws as pets, and scarlet macaws in particular, from the international pet trade has threatened wild populations in Latin America with extinction. One Earth Conservation has been working with partners in Honduras for many years to ensure the survival of these magnificent parrots.
In 2017, One Earth Conservation assisted one of our partner organizations in Honduras, INCEBIO, with applying for a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide funds to aid them in rescuing their threatened national bird, the scarlet macaw, as well as the green macaw…and they got it! The grant totals about $50,000 per year for two years and, is helping us to extend the project into a much larger area of the La Moskitia region of Honduras. We are so grateful for this, and other, support that INCEBIO and One Earth Conservation have recently received for the project. We are pleased to report that this project, which began a few years ago on a shoestring budget, is currently the largest wild parrot conservation area in Latin America that is protected by community patrols!
Wild scarlet macaw chick
We are delighted to report that the US Fish & Wildlife Service has chosen our project as a model one to demonstrate to others how to successfully combat the poaching of birds in Latin America. Therefore, the agency arranged for a small film crew to come down to Honduras this spring to shoot footage for a five-minute documentary. (When the film is completed by fall 2018, we will post it on the One Earth Conservation website and will publish a link at that time.)
What makes the project unique is our proven and highly effective strategy that includes community-driven interventions and features very “charismatic” species that are native in the Western Hemisphere – large and beautiful scarlet and green macaws. The precarious status of these amazing birds in their native country illustrates the challenges and complexities posed by wildlife trafficking in the Americas. Our project demonstrates a conservation solution that benefits both wildlife and people. The people are taking real personal risks to protect species that are tied to their cultural identity and heritage.
One Earth Conservation partners with, trains and empowers local leaders of the indigenous people in Mabita, Honduras, as well as other nearby villages, to motivate and teach others to become conservationists. In fact, a number of the people involved in the project were once poachers themselves and now are passionately committing to saving their beautiful birds. Over a number of years, a relatively small amount of money has had a large impact on parrot conservation work in La Moskitia – initially, 100% of parrot chicks were poached from their nests, but in each of the last two years 0% have been poached, and this year, so far, 0% have been poached.
One Earth Conservation Honduras Project Director, and Board member, Hector Orlando Portillo Reyes being interviewed for the documentary
What is also important is that saving macaws has a ripple effect, not only on other wildlife and plants, but also on the people in the project’s communities. They are now supporting themselves and their families by saving their own wildlife, they are teaching their children the importance of conservation and they are working together with local law enforcement and government agencies to make all this happen. This is truly “bottom up” conservation and it is working!