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Parrot Conservationists' Spirits Live On in Us

Updated: Feb 11, 2023

Gonzalo Cardona Molina

A few weeks ago, I heard about the murder of Gonzalo Cardona Molina, a parrot conservationist in Colombia. He is credited with the saving of two species – the yellow-eared parrot and the Quindío wax palm upon which they feed. He could save others, but he could not save himself.

Or, actually, did he?

Tomas showing me the scars of where bullets were removed and where some still remain

I do not know him, but I do another parrot conservationist, Tomas Mananzares Ruís of La Moskitia, Honduras. He, too, was targeted for assassination in 2009 for protecting his lands, trees, and parrots, but unlike Gonzalo, he survived to tell me this, just a few days ago.

“We need the young people to go into the forest with us. For when I die and the next generation doesn’t know the forest, where are we?”

Parrot conservation team deep in the forest 2020 - Tomas is on the right

He wanted to make sure that we supported others to go deeper into their disappearing forest in hopes of knowing it and the large macaws and mammals that call that place home, including his indigenous people.

He reminded me of the sentiment of Wendell Berry whose writings say to me, “If we don’t know where we are, we don’t know who we are.”

So maybe Gonzalo, in a certain way, did save himself by knowing who he was through his commitment to the land, as does Tomas, and as he is teaching me and the generations to come.

They are both saviors and savers of this bright earth, helping to keep our human kind from disappearing into irrelevance and disconnection from that which birthed us. And as they save us, our kind and kin might one day all flourish together.

Thank you both. Your spirits flies free forever.

Pree palisa (fly free in Miskitu).

The work of Tomas and the other parrot conservationists in La Moskitia, Honduras. Their hardships and risks are many, but they keep on so parrots can fly free.

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