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Take Them or Leave Them

Macaw chicks in their nest cavity

Did you know that this Friday is Endangered Species Day? I didn’t and I’ve been working on endangered species-related issues for more years than I can remember! Apparently, Endangered Species Day was founded 13 years ago by the Endangered Species Coalition, a nonprofit organization that works to educate people about and advocate for endangered species. I’m glad to know that this group and such a day exist.

It seems particularly timely this week, then, to talk about some of the challenges involved in helping endangered species on the ground. As you know, One Earth Conservation works on a daily basis to help some of the most endangered parrots in the world. Rev. Dr. LoraKim Joyner is currently in Honduras, working with our partners there to save, among other species, the scarlet macaw. Yesterday, LoraKim sent me a video that dramatically illustrates some of the quandaries conservationists face (you can watch the video below). The bottom line is, when the team in La Moskitia, Honduras, found a nest of scarlet macaw chicks, they also found evidence that poachers had already climbed the tree looking for eggs or chicks. Since the chicks were there, the team assumed there was no active nest when the poachers were there.

So, the tough decision is this…should we take them or leave them? If the conservationists leave the chicks there for their parents to raise them, there is a high risk that the poachers will return and steal them out of their nest to sell them (if they survive the rough handling they will have to endure). If the conservationists take them to raise them at the Rescue and Liberation Center of Mabita, they will cause the parents and chicks great distress and they will be raised in a less than ideal environment. However, the chance they will survive and fly free will be significantly greater.

So, what do you think we should do? Take them or leave them? I’ll update you about what actually happened when I hear from LoraKim again.

UPDATE as of 5/16/19: LoraKim texted me from Honduras today and here is what she wrote: "We left the chick in the nest. The patrollers want to try and protect. In some villages we have people camping and patrolling 24/7. But the territory is so huge we can't be under every nest everyday. But it helps that we got funding to buy plastic sheets to camp under and can repair bikes and motor bikes this year. Our patrollers in Mabita 5 days ago stopped poachers that were in the process of chopping open a nest tree. So more resources are helping!"

Thank you to our individual donors and institutional funders who helped to make this possible!

A wild scarlet macaw sits outside of a rescue center for macaws in the small town of Mabita, Honduras.

Credit: Art Howard / Christi Lowe Productions

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