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Active Hope in Stopping the Parrot Trade

Updated: Jul 10

In recent months, the regional wildlife authorities near our project area in La Moskitia, Honduras have amped up their efforts to address the illegal wildlife trade.  It’s against the law in most countries to trap wild parrots, but there are often few resources and lackluster political will to end this harmful practice.  Recently, though, our governmental colleagues have been trying harder. This year they have made a few confiscations of parrots, and a huge one came when I was there in May 2024.


Yellow-naped parrot chicks confiscated in terrible shape

The confiscated chicks arrived by the box full and in terrible shape.


Sick and dying parrot chicks harmed by the wildilfe trade

Five olive-throated parakeet and fourteen critically endangered yellow-naped parrot chicks were confiscated near Puerto Lempira in May 2024 and a few days later brought to the Rescue and Liberation Center of La Moskitia. They were in terrible shape (photos above), experiencing heat exhaustion, malnutrition, and a low well-being score using the Five Domains Model. One parakeet died on the way and two more succumbed a few days later. Two yellow-naped parrots became critically ill, one died, and the other nearly died but is now slowly recovering. Losing 4 of 19 birds, which is about 21%, is not as bad as it often can be. My very first trip to Central America to help care for 200 yellow-naped parrot chicks in the 1980’s resulted in only three eventually surviving. One study in Mexico cited up to 75% of wild parrots dying that had been captured for the wildlife trade.


Olive-throated parakeet chicks cared for by each other and humans.

Not all of them will survive the harm of the wildlife trade.



Hungry yellow-naped chicks look to humans for care and nourishment at the Rescue Center.


We gave it our all to aid these birds, but the work to return them to the wild is just starting. They will need to be fed, housed, and nursed until they are healthy, and then given the chance to learn how to be wild parrots. Only then can they be released.  It’s a long process and takes careful and steady attention, not to mention financial resources, which as of yet we do not have because we didn’t expect to receive an uptick in confiscated birds.


Just a few weeks later the authorities brought us eight adult yellow-naped parrots that had been in captivity and they will have an even longer journey towards freedom, if they can even be liberated. Being pets for so long with clipped wing feathers and unable to fly means that it will take months of patience and training for the feathers to grow so that they can fly to forage for food and avoid predators.



Dying yellow-naped parrot chick

(was stolen from her wild nest and then confiscated by Honduran authorities).

 

The wildlife trade not only takes a toll on these birds but on us. Our hearts ache to see so many young lives negatively impacted by the trade and to feel helpless to either stop the trade or to save these orphaned birds. I asked Anayda and Santiago, the codirectors of the Rescue and Liberation Center, what they thought of losing their birds and seeing all the suffering, and they replied, "I am sad. All we can do is keep doing the work and not give up." 


Parrot rescue workers bury yet another dead parrot

Santiago and Anayda burying one more parrot harmed by the wildlife trade.

But they do all they can so none die or suffer needlessly.


Co-directors of the Rescue and Liberation Center of La Moskita working hard to save parrots

They do not give up - they continue to work towards a better future, despite powerful interests in the world destroying lives. An Indigenous man in Guyana said to me, “They come to take what is ours to make it theirs.”  Parrots are stolen and imported into countries around the world. These buyers who fuel the demand, in return export into countries where parrots are still flying free, which results in parrot suffering, demanding work, human mental suffering, human physical hardship and risk, and the painful heartache of losing one’s wildlife.

But somehow, as Santiago says, we must go on. Not with wistful thinking that the world will somehow magically be better if we just wish it to be so, but with active hope, of which Joanna Macy writes:

 

“Active hope is waking up to the beauty of life on whose behalf we can act. We belong to this world. The web of life is calling us forth at this time. We’ve come a long way and are here to play our part.”   


Children learn early to care for rescued parrots at the Rescue and Liberation Center of La Moskitia, Honduras

Hope is the thing with feathers and the caring, future generations

actively working to protect the parrots in Honduras


The trade is relentless and harmful, but beauty is always present. Let us play our part together to end the trade as we answer the call from the web of life. Come join the International Alliance for the Protection of Parrots (IAPP) and let others know of the IAPP's upcoming Parrot Crisis Summit. You can register now to save your place.


Parrot Crisis Summit October 2024

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