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Parrot Conservationists Burdened with Glorious Purpose


It's not all a burden. There is so much joy as well (playing with the village children in Kalebaskreek, May 2024, photo by Joost Havelman)

Recently while in Suriname working with the Kalebaskreek Parrot Rangers, I lapsed into a moment of despair. As Legolas says in “The Lord of the Rings,” it is wrong to despair, but alas sometimes I do. Suriname allows the trapping of parrots and their exportation, and under the guise of legality there is much harm and illegality. Birds move from their homes in the forests to cages all of the world. We are just a few very small organizations, some passionate individuals, and one village trying to stop the harm. I tire of experiencing the long, hard slog that seems to not have hope of any sustainable progress in a direction where all beings flourish.

Wet parrot counting in Suriname, May 2024

Talking from our swinging hammocks in the village open lodge after a long, wet afternoon on the river counting parrots, my companions and I were griping about how what we are trying to do seems impossible, which is to end the trade in parrots. Stopping the trade through protection and other legal measures has had spotty success, and in the newly released World Wildlife Crime Report, the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime concluded that that “wildlife trafficking persists worldwide despite two decades of concerted action at international and national levels.”  For this reason, we work to stop the demand for parrots, whether legally or illegally traded, because it seems that what we are currently doing is not working.

One of my companions offered, “We are burdened with glorious purpose.” Amazingly, hearing that perked me up a bit, for sharing with others our tragic heroism may be exactly the only thing we know we can accomplish in the face of the overwhelming odds against free flying parrots. Several lines from the TV series "Loki" seemed relevant to me:

Breaking down things is easy. Trying to fix what is broken is hard. Hope is hard. And by hard, I mean impossible. Most purpose is more burden than glory. There is no comfort, you just choose your burden. I am burdened with glorious purpose. (And in reality, the burden, the call to nurture all life, chooses us)

Them’s fighting and inspiriting words, my fellow parrot conservationists!

Forward ho!

We are all writing a new story. Let us write one together. The world needs people coming together beyond the vagaries of individual pursuits to unite in a transcendental purpose that claims us, as suggested by David Brooks in the New York Times on May 17, 2024. Our responses to the ongoing harm are promises and commitment. Please join us in our work and let us keep one another in good company, promising to be in solidarity with all life.

Blue-and-yellow macaw in Suriname showing Unconditional Solidarity

To help us come together in solidarity, we offer two Parrot Pilgrimages this fall.

Parrot Pilgrimages in Nicaragua and Guatemala


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