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The Breath and Breadth of Forest and Parrot Protectors – La Miskito, Honduras

Updated: Feb 11, 2023

We visited our macaw conservation project in October, 2018, a good month after the last scarlet macaw chick fledged in Honduras along the Coco River that separates Honduras from Nicaragua. In the 6 communities in the core conservation area - which include Pranza, Mabita, Rus Rus, Suhi, Mocoron, and Wahabispan - we heard amazing stories of hardship, commitment, and success. Though only with 11 paid full-time positions for six months (whose income is shared with over 80 patrollers), these communities attempted to protect 253,693 hectares (626,889 acres, or 980 square miles). Individual protectors would sometimes walk up to 25 kilometers in one day and camp nearly 27 kilometers from home for days at a time. In this area, we registered a total of 103 active nests during the breeding season, and another 12 deeper in the forest after the breeding season. This is up from 42 active nests registered in 2017, and means over 110 chicks were protected until they could fledge.

Team on Mocoron River on way to community of Wahabispan to present the results of the project

and plan with them for the coming year.

All this was done on foot, horse, motorcycle, and bike, and for only one month, we had a rental truck. Because the expanse was so great and the resources so few, it is no wonder that we had 20% of our nests poached. The percentage of nests poached, however, is much higher outside of the core conservation area, approaching 100%, so we consider this year's project a success. We learned about how to make improvements and changes to meet the difficult challenges that result from daring to preserve so much beauty that is at risk.

This map highlights the Moskitia region of Honduras and Nicaragua

and the white region is the area patrolled by the forest protectors

Our community coordinator in the village of Rus Rus told me that in this area trees, creeks, and birds are the lungs of La Miskito, because it is one of the largest and most biodiverse segments left in the region. The land may be the lungs, but these forest protectors in the project are the heart. As they patrol along their beats, often trudging heavily through mud, rain, rivers, and fire, they allow us all to breathe easier and walk more lightly.

Community of Rus Rus led by Marvin Valle

This same coordinator told me that because the parrots are seed dispersers, they maintain the biodiversity and health of the forest. His job to protect the parrots ensures that the birds can then seed the land, which in turn helps his people grow and live well. “They are farmers just like us!”

It’s one long chain, not of oppression, but of liberation. By keeping the birds free, everyone’s health is improved - the forest, the people, the air, the climate - as are the spirits of those who are in solidarity with this cause.

A chain of beauty protected and cherished in La Moskitia in our parrot conservation project here.

Please join the cause, for yourself, for life. Make your donation as seed money for the next year. For less than half what one forest ranger makes in the USA in one year, we can pay these people to supplement their farming with a necessary cash income and give them the encouragement to save what they and so many others love. Imagine how much more they could do with your help. If possible, consider making a monthly recurring contribution so that we can plan to support these people regularly.

If you are in the New York area, come celebrate and help us in person by attending our Holiday Parrot Party. We'd love to see you! In the meantime, thanks so much to all of our donors and team members who make this success possible!

Children of Wahabispan often also attend community organizing meetings

(photo by Hector Portillo Reyes)

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