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Parrot Conservation: Loving Oneself So You Can Love and Care for the World

Updated: May 24, 2023

Recently the representatives of five communities in La Moskitia, Honduras came together for their quarterly Conservation Committee meeting. They arrived by truck, horse, foot, and motorcycle. These meetings are for growing the capacity and networking capability of the following communities currently involved with our conservation project there: Suhi, Mocoron, Wahabispan, Rus Rus, and Mabita.

The school at Rus Rus where we learned about conservation and loving the world as it looks in May 2023. The real classroom for this work is the earth and the text is our relationship to our lovely planet.

We offered a brief training on how to design a conservation project using the model below (Kapos et al, Cambridge Conservation Forum), as well as parrot identification. One village reported seeing two new species that we have not documented officially before in the area (the Pacific parakeet and orange-chinned parakeet). We look forward to recording them in our upcoming annual counts.

The majority of the time was spent learning and practicing emotional and social intelligence. For the purpose of the meeting, we defined emotional intelligence as being curious and aware of one’s feelings (emotions, body state, mood) and the needs that the feelings correspond to. Social intelligence is basically the same but pertains to the feelings and needs of others. The higher the emotional and social intelligence in people, the greater the individual and group health, which results in more positive outcomes in relationships and conservation activities. We need strong relationships and conservation teams to weather the storms of corruption, violence, and inadequate governance that plagues this area.

One aspect of emotional intelligence is the idea of self-empathy; we practice translating our inner chatter and dialog into feelings and needs statements. This practice is just one tool among many to improve outcomes and relationships, and it is a powerful one built upon the foundations of Nonviolent Communication developed by Marshall Rosenberg. Basically, the practice helps us accept our feelings and needs, which leads to greater self-love. We need great self-love because if there is any part of ourselves we don’t love, then there are parts of the entirety of existence we don’t love. This in turn challenges our ability to be nurtured and be resilient in the midst of great loss and challenge, and to care for life.

Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.

– Lao Tzu

Booklet for the Conservation Committee. We learned our lessons well,

but it takes practice to put love into action.

Several days after the meeting I was called upon to settle some conflict within one of the communities regarding their parrot patrols. One person who attended the Conservation Committee meeting explained to those experiencing conflict with one another and their community that they had to work on loving themselves and others so that they could be present to the needs of the wildlife, the forests, and the people. I wasn’t sure how the concepts of emotional and social intelligence would translate into another culture, but based on this conflict resolution meeting and comments from those who attended, the message and training was well received.

Conservation Committee of La Moskitia - demonstrating their love of fun

It seems that deep down many of us know that our work in the world begins and ends with self-love and acceptance, and with that we can save our people, our parrots, and our planet.

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