Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Ranger saves Yellow-shouldered Parrots

7 June, 2012 - 12:19 -- World Land Trust
Ranger looking after Yellow-shouldered Parrot chicks

World Land Trust (WLT) is protecting Endangered parrots on Margarita Island, off the north-east coast of Venezuela, by funding more reserve rangers

This year’s Yellow-shouldered Parrot breeding season has begun on the Caribbean island of Margarita, where fledgling chicks must soon face the threat of poachers.

The illegal collection of the parrot chicks for the pet trade is jeopardising the survival of the Yellow-shouldered Parrot, an Endangered species on Margarita Island.

WLT has been supporting conservation projects on the island with our partner Asociación Civil Provita since 2008 and in March we launched an urgent appeal to tackle this escalating crisis.

Ranger monitoring nests

Ranger Pablo is monitoring the nests of Yellow-shouldered Parrots to ensure their survival on Margarita Island, one of the last strongholds for the species © Provita

Three months into the Margarita Island Parrot Appeal and thanks to generous donations we have already raised over £7,326, but we need to reach our target of £10,000 by the end of August to help support the continued survival of this species.

All donations to this appeal are doubled, meaning your support is twice as effective as every donation is being matched pound for pound.

Crucially, you will enable Provita to train more local people as reserve rangers to increase the continued protection of the parrots, as well as raise environmental awareness within the island community and provide alternative income and secure jobs.

Meet the ranger saving parrots

Reserve ranger, Pablo Antonio Millán, is supported through WLT’s Keepers of the Wild programme; he was the first local guide that Provita hired to conduct the Yellow-shouldered Parrot population monitoring and management.

Part of Pablo’s job is to make artificial nests for the Yellow-shouldered Parrot and ensure that they can breed safely. He said:

“It gives me great satisfaction when I see the fledglings coming out of their nests. I feel enormous happiness when I watch them flying, knowing that they are free.”

Yellow-shouldered Parrot

Yellow-shouldered Parrots are Endangered on Margarita Island, where WLT is funding a protected nature reserve and more rangers to help save the species © Provita

Pablo is among seven rangers, working day and night, to monitor and protect the nests this breeding season – but more man power is desperately needed to secure the future of wild populations of this species.

Pablo has been working as a parabiologist with Provita for over 20 years; parabiology is the training of local people in scientific survey methods, particularly for conservation efforts to protect endangered habitats by collecting information and reporting conservation threats. Pablo’s knowledge of natural history is extensive and covers most plant and animal species in the region.

Before joining Provita, Pablo was a wildlife poacher but explains that he only did it because he wanted to protect animals in his own way. Since, he has changed his views and has gained a better understanding of wildlife protection and conservation.

Pablo is also a talented artist; by combining his knowledge of nature with his skills as an amateur painter, he has developed a unique style in which he often depicts the entire life cycle of a species in a single painting. Bibiana Sucre, Programme Coordinator for Provita, said:

“Pablo is one of the most inspiring success stories of Provita in Margarita; he is well-known as a local conservationist and artists, serving as an example for all.”

Celebrate the parrot breeding season

Yellow-shouldered Parrot

Margarita Island is a stronghold for Yellow-shouldered Parrots © Provita

In March, the ranger team set about repairing the nests that the parrots have been using for many years and soon they saw the first couples reaching the nesting sites. Slowly, each parrot couple chose a nest and started fixing the cavities themselves, by bringing small pieces of bark to make a bed on the bottom so the eggs can be laid and incubated.

On May 1, the rangers checked all the main nesting sites on the island and were alarmed to find that 40 per cent of the nests had already been visited by poachers. This represents a very aggressive and early attack, since most of the nests still have incubating eggs and any hatched chicks would have been only one or two days old.

Addressing this very urgent threat, the rangers are making an even greater effort to protect the nests and eggs. The result is that 39 chicks are developing well and there is still time for the parrots to lay more eggs. The seven rangers, who work day and night to monitor and protect the nests, are also being supported by the local police. Provita are negotiating for more official support from the Ministry of the Environment, National Guard and a new central police body, called DIBISE.

Hopefully, these combined efforts will also lead to the recovery of some of the chicks that have already been poached, as they can still join foster nests to continue growing before flying free into Provita’s protected nature reserve.

The Margarita Island Parrot Appeal is helping fund all this work, including:

  • Monitoring the eggs and chicks, until the fledglings are strong enough to fly free into the protected reserve;
  • Increasing the number overnight patrols by rangers to strengthen security;
  • Providing nest recovery so the parrots have a safe place to breed and lay eggs;
  • Planting trees to improve the forest habitat for the parrot's feeding, breeding and nesting.

With your help, we can secure the future of Margarita Island’s wild population of Endangered Yellow-shouldered Parrot.

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