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On the Wild Side
Some Good and Bad News for Wild Parrots
by Krista Menzel, MAARS Director of Communications
The Bad News: St. Vincent Amazons Threatened by Road Construction
The globally threatened national bird of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the St. Vincent Amazon (Amazona guildingii), is under a new threat from a cross-country road construction project.
The St. Vincent Amazon population declined to critical levels in the 1980s. Scientists cite habitat loss, hunting for food, and trapping for the cage-bird trade as the principal causes of the species' decline. The population has recovered slightly since then through efforts supported by the St. Vincent government, however it still only numbers around 800 birds.
The new road would irreversibly damage what is left of the parrots' primary rainforest habitat, and open up this area to further destruction by illegal loggers and marijuana growers. Although it is required under recognized international standards, no Environmental Impact Assessment has been performed. However, Friends of the Environment /St. Vincent and the Grenadines (FOTE/SVG), a local activist group, obtained a copy of a private Environmental Investigation and Cataloguing study that was prepared earlier this year. The study indicates that the road threatens the parrot and other native flora and fauna, threatening valuable ecotourism, interfering with a critical watershed, and increasing the risk of mudslides.
The Cross Country Road project is being sponsored by the Taiwanese Overseas Investment and Development Organization. So far, Taiwan has spent $2.74 million (U.S.) in an effort to court St. Vincent and the Grenadines' support as a "diplomatic partner" in order to gain recognition by the United Nations. FOTE/SVG and St. Vincent's New Democratic Party are strongly challenging the construtction of this new road for political, environmental, and social reasons.
More Information on St. Vincent Amazons
by BirdLife International
by Scientific American
by BirdLife International
The Good News: Released Orange-bellied Parrots Arrive in Tasmania!
Last month, we told you about an Australian conservation effort for Orange-bellied Parrots (Neophema chrysogaster). It is believed that only 150–180 individuals of this migratory species live in the wild. They spend the winter in coastal Victoria on the Australian mainland, and then depart for the island of Tasmania in the spring, where they breed.
During August 2004 (winter in Australia), Tasmania's Nature Conservation Branch released six of approximately 100 captive-bred individuals in Victoria in an effort to revitalize the wild population. The captive-bred birds wear brightly colored legbands to identify them.
Early in November, Victorian researchers were happy to report that a number of the Orange-bellied Parrots they released on the mainland in August were seen near their traditional breeding grounds in southwest Tasmania!
More Information on Orange-bellied Parrots
by ABC Rural Homepage
by Victoria Department of Sustainability and Environment