Tackling the illegal pet trade: protecting parrot chicks
March 2012: On a Caribbean Island off the north coast of Venezuela, the survival of the Yellow-shouldered Parrot is at risk from the illegal pet trade.
In July last year 16 endangered parrot chicks were stolen from their nest boxes at the research centre on Margarita Island owned by local conservation organisation, Asociación Civil Provita. The rangers had been guarding and monitoring the chicks until they were strong enough to fly free into the wild but they were over-powered.
In response to this threat, World Land Trust (a UK-based conservation charity, working internationally ) and partners Provita launched the Margarita Island’s Parrot Appeal in March to urgently raise £10,000 in six months. The ambitious appeal will give the rangers the support they need to protect this seasons parrot chicks and help ensure their continued survival – before it is too late.
Luckily none of the rangers were harmed in the robbery and last season saw 50 fledglings fly free into a protected nature reserve. However, there is growing concern relating to the illegal collection of endangered species all over the world, particularly for the pet trade.
In Venezuela the Yellow-shouldered Parrot is Endangered (internationally classified Vulnerable) and Margarita Island is one of its last strongholds. Provita work tirelessly with local communities to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the Yellow-shouldered Parrot; this beautiful bird is so important to the islanders’ culture and environment that every year they throw a festival in its honour.
Yet sadly much of the island’s population suffer from crippling poverty; for many the price that a few parrots can fetch in the illegal pet trade market is too great a reward to miss. There is no doubt that poachers will be back again this summer.
One ranger, 45-year-old ranger Pablo Millán from the local community of El Horcón, has worked for Provita for over 20 years to safeguard the island’s threatened wildlife from poachers. He said: “I am convinced my job is very important. I visit many places on Margarita Island and I don’t see the same diversity of plants and animals that I see in the nature reserve, this is because we prevent people from damaging wildlife in the area.”
He added: “We don’t do this for ourselves – we do this for the plants and animals, so they survive and don’t become extinct. It gives me great satisfaction when I see the parrot fledglings coming out of their nests. I feel enormous happiness when I watch them flying, knowing that they are free.”
For more information
Full Press release: http://www.worldlandtrust.org/documents/press-release-margarita-island-parrot-appeal-march2012.pdf (183KB) (opens in new window)
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