Wednesday 26 May 2010.
In a move that rarely happens, the IUCN Red List will change the status of the Yellow-eared Parrot from “Critically Endangered” to “Endangered.” The move recognizes the remarkable achievements of three conservation organizations – Fundación ProAves, Fundación Loro Parque, and American Bird Conservancy (ABC) – in conserving the species.
Many in the birding and wildlife community rejoiced in 1998 when Fundación ProAves, funded by ABC and Loro Parque (an environmental group focused on saving parrots) rediscovered a colony of 81 Yellow-eared Parrots in the Andes of Colombia, South America after the species was thought to be extinct.
That jubilation was tempered by the fact that a new responsibility and challenge needed to be faced – protecting the environment around these birds and growing the colony to levels that would better ensure its long term viability. The IUCN Red List announcement by BirdLife International confirms that the challenge is being successfully met with the Yellow-eared Parrot now standing at more than 1,000 individuals.
“Today, almost 11 years later, we see the results of the ongoing work of over 180 individuals and 47 organizations around the world. This also includes contributions by local communities as well as success in research, conservation and environmental education activities,” said Alonso Quevedo, President of of ProAves.
Fabio Arjona, Director of Conservation International Colombia said: “One of the most important aspects of the Eared Parrot Initiative, was to get involve several environmental authorities (CARs), The Ministry of Environment , the church and other organizations, which jointly supported and continue to support this initiative, through high-impact communication campaigns as “Reconciled With Nature,” which began with the parrot “Umbrella” species and has involved other threatened species”.
“Since 1999 the Loro Parque Foundation has supported ProAves in its exceptional efforts to bring about the recovery of the Yellow-eared Parrot. With the announcement today that this species is no longer Critically Endangered, we are proud that our support has paid off in the best possible way. The come-back of the Yellow-eared Parrot is singularly impressive, and the conservation program of ProAves should be used as a model of success to avoid the extinction of other threatened parrots.” added Wolfgang Kiessling, President of Loro Parque Fundación.
“This stunning and truly remarkable success shows what can be achieved when committed organizations, institutions and individuals come together with a clear and common purpose — to save a species,” said ABC’s President George Fenwick.
Fundación ProAves implemented several major initiatives to help save the Yellow-eared Parrot.
In 2009 the Parrot Conservation Corridor was established to protect the Yellow-eared Parrot and included the strategic acquisition of over 4,000 has (10,000 acres) of critical habitat with significant reforestation efforts. A Nest Box Program was another effective conservation tool, created and implemented by ProAves since 2003 that has provided critical new nest sites and directly increased the Yellow-eared Parrot population.
Another important effort has involved the wax palm, Colombia’s national tree which is also in danger of extinction. Because the tree palm provides critical habitat for the Yellow-eared Parrot, a campaign was successfully instituted to reduce the use of the wax palm for Palm Sunday celebrations by the Catholic Church in Colombia, which whole-heartedly supported the campaign.
The Yellow-eared Parrot conservation effort was further advanced by the support and commitment of local governments, rural communities and environmental education projects such as the “Environmental Education Mobile Classroom Loro Bus.” The bus has had a remarkable array of achievements through its visits to 17 departments and 43 municipalities in Colombia, reaching over 120,000 children.
Eleven years after starting conservation efforts to save the Yellow-eared Parrot, we can celebrate that its population now numbers over 1000 individuals, a key threshold for the recovery of the population. Conservation efforts continue with the hope that the spectacular Yellow-eared parrot is once again a common sight across the Andes of Colombia.
American Bird Conservancy conserves native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats while building capacity of the bird conservation movement. ABC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization that is consistently awarded a top, four-star rating by the independent group, Charity Navigator.
ProAves is a Colombian non-profit organization that focuses on the study and conservation of our biodiversity, especially birds at risk of extinction and their habitats, in partnership with local communities. Their objective is to support and promote the protection of Colombia’s incredible but endangered natural heritage with the ultimate aim of benefiting the planet and humanity.
Loro Parque Fundación is a non profit organization in Spain operating on an international basis to promote conservation of parrots, biodiversity, the environment and sustainable development.