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Parrot Conservation Corps: Spotlight on Cristian David Torres-Morel

Cristian and friends

That's Cristian on the right with the camera and baseball cap

We at One Earth Conservation are so excited that our 2024 bilingual Parrot Conservation Corps (PCC), which has 51 participants registered, just started this month! To celebrate, we’re going to occasionally spotlight some of the amazing people from around the world who are coming together online for a full year to learn all they can about parrots, the challenges these birds are facing, and how everyone can help.


We’re starting this series with an interview with Cristian, who is a graduate of the 2023 Spanish PCC (known as CCP in Spanish) and is serving as a Group Leader in this year’s cohort.


GK: Can you speak a bit about where you live and how you are involved with parrots there?


CDTM: I live in southern Paraguay in a place called Pilar. The environment around Pilar includes a lot of lowlands and wetlands, and many aquatic birds call this place their home. I’m not directly involved with parrots at this time, but I have worked with birds in general. Currently, I’m working with the Hugo Foundation and my responsibilities include helping local communities to understand the importance of biodiversity both for the environment and their local economies. So, although I currently don’t work directly with nature, I know this work is important and will help nature more indirectly.

Cristian leading a group in Paraguay

Cristian leading a group in Paraguay


GK: Do you know the general status of parrots in Paraguay?


CDTM: I follow some organizations that work on parrot conservation (including One Earth Conservation), so I have some knowledge about their status. I’ve heard that macaws in Paraguay are all endangered. For example, there are very few pairs of adult hyacinth macaws mating locally. Other birds I’ve learned about that are in trouble include vinaceous-breasted amazons and blue-and-yellow macaws.


GK: What is your favorite parrot and why?


CDTM: I really don’t have one favorite because they are all so beautiful! I guess I lean towards macaws, since they are so large and crazily beautiful. I also love how their brains work. The only type of macaw that I’ve seen in the wild is the red-and-green macaw. It was so amazing to see that bird and I felt very emotional. But I really think all parrots are beautiful.

Fying wild red-and-green macaws

Wild red-and-green macaws flying free. Photo by João D'Andretta on Wikimedia Commons


GK: Do you have a story you’d like to share about yourself and parrots?


CDTM: When I was about 12 years old, I had a monk parakeet as a pet, named Coto, and he was probably a poached bird. I never learned the bird’s gender but was told he was likely a male due to his larger size. Coto was very smart and would speak and he lived with us for about 4-5 years. Then, one day I went outside with him on my shoulder (which I did pretty often) during a celebration and there were fireworks. Coto was startled and so he flew away. We were able to find him but something seemed wrong and he died a few days later. I was devastated, so much so that I decided that I never wanted to have a bird as a pet again. This experience totally changed my view of having birds as pets in general. I realized that keeping birds as pets was affecting individual beings and I thought about how they must feel. This idea inspired me to work with birds as much as I can. I eventually realized that Paraguay is not making enough of an effort to conserve wildlife and I hope to have an impact on that in my own way.


GK: What has been the impact of the Parrot Conservation Corps on your life and/or field of work?


CDTM: I remember the amazing people I met last year and the work they are doing. For example, I particularly remember the incredible work of one woman who is focusing on burrowing parrots in Argentina! I am also especially inspired by the anecdotes that LoraKim shares about One Earth Conservation’s projects. My favorite is the story of the little girl in Honduras who grew up with a scarlet macaw. I found it very moving.

Child and rescued wild scarlet macaw

Child in Honduras who grew up with a rescued wild scarlet macaw


GK: Have you implemented anything you learned from the course in your life or work with parrots?


CDTM: Last year I started working with teens and young adults to connect them with their surroundings. I liked the PCC’s emphasis on connecting with people and going beyond just doing conservation and also the emphasis on local communities. This has impacted my life’s work a lot. Although, I’ve learned that it’s hard to work with people from different backgrounds, as they don’t understand how the connections in nature and between people are fragile. I have improved my skills in this area, though. I am now more aware of the differences between people and their different circumstances. They are not bad people; they just don’t know any better. I can connect to LoraKim’s frustrations in these areas. I always debate with myself about how I should speak to people and what to say to them about keeping parrots as pets.


GK: Thanks so much for speaking with me, Cristian, and for the good work you are doing!

Cristian taking a photograph

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