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On the Wild Side
The Tsunamis' Impact on Asian Birdlife
by Dr. Stewart Metz, Director, Project Bird Watch
We have had a large number of inquiries about the effect of the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunamis, on Project Bird Watch's Indonesian friends and colleagues, and upon the islands, forests, and wildlife/birdlife of Indonesia.
Thus far, we are unaware of major damage or loss of life in Central or Eastern Indonesia (the Moluccas and West Papua are in the East). This can probably be explained geographically (see map, where "Sumatera"= Sumatra).
The earthquake occurred in the ocean west of the northern tip of Sumatra — i.e., the westernmost aspect of Indonesia. The tsunami then spread into the Indian Ocean (sparing the Pacific) to the north and west. Presumably, the movement of energy to the east would have been mitigated by the intervening landmasses of Malaysia and Thailand. Bali and other islands further east (for example, in Maluku province, where Seram and Halmahera are) were not damaged. As for the wildlife of Sumatra itself, it is outside of "Wallacea" and contains no cockatoos and only a limited number of parrots, such as the Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot, the Blue- rumped Parrot, the Long-tailed Parakeet, and the Red- breasted Parakeet.
Most of the wildlife of the countries in the region affected by the tsunami fared better than one might have expected. Many, as you have doubtless read, responded much more quickly than humans and fled inland where many survived, including elephants and primates. However, the salt water is expected to have long-lasting effects on mangroves and the forests where the tsunami reached them. The turtles were the hardest hit; on one island, in addition, all conservationists studying two species of sea turtle died in the tragedy except for one local worker who was back working on the project (what remained of it) a few days later.
Not surprisingly, however, the effect on domesticated animals (as well as pet birds in cages) was catastrophic.
There has been a recent setback of a different type to parrots and other wildlife in Indonesia — financial. When a parrot — or a sunbear, orang utan, turtle, raptor, or monkey — is seized from smugglers, it is turned over to one of Indonesia's excellent Wild Animal Rescue Centers, where it is rehabilitated and prepared (if possible) for release back into the wild. It is these Centers with whom Project Bird Watch has been collaborating to build a Rescue and Release Center for birds on Seram Island. Until now, these Centers have been funded by the Gibbon Foundation. However, recently, the Gibbon Foundation has announced that due to financial setbacks, it must withdraw almost all funding. Although it is too soon to know the exact effects of this announcement, it seems likely to have severe adverse effects on the protection of parrots and other wild animals in Indonesia.
More Information on Birds and the Tsunamis
by BirdLife International
by BirdLife International
Nesting Begins for Endangered Puerto Rican Amazon Parrots
by Krista Menzel, MAARS Director of Communications
Puerto Rican Amazon Parrots are one of the ten most endangered birds in the world, with only 30–35 remaining in the wild, up from a low of thirteen wild birds in 1975. Captive Puerto Rican Amazons started nesting last month in the Caribbean National Forest ("El Yunque") at Luquillo Aviary, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service forest breeding facility, one of two such aviaries on the island. Eggs are now appearing in nests inside the aviaries, and researchers will be watching for chicks over the next five or six months.
After more than 30 years of conservation efforts, Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program researchers are hoping for another successful breeding season this year. Since 2000, forty captive-raised parrots have been released, although not all have survived predation and hurricanes. Last year, ten birds were successfully raised. The 159 birds currently in the program will remain in the aviaries at least until next year, when a small group that has been trained to forage for food and avoid natural predators will be released into the wild to establish a second wild population in the western part of the island in the Rio Abajo forest, near the second aviary, which is run by the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources. When released, parrots are fitted with radio transmitters so their movements can be tracked.
Researchers are hopeful that if they continue to increase the captive population of these native parrots, the species could make a comeback.
More Information on Puerto Rican Amazon Conservation Efforts
by Ian James, Associated Press
by Thomas H. White, Jr., and Fernando Nunez-Garcia, Endangered Species Bulletin
by Matthew Hay Brown, Orlando Sentinel
United Nations Environment Programme - World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC)
U.S. Geological Survey - National Wildlife Health Center
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Division of Endangered Species