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Parrot from Thought Extinct to 1,000…

Environmental Victory for Colombia

(Washington, D.C., May 26, 2010) In a move that rarely happens, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) today announced that the status of the Yellow-eared Parrot is being downgraded 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 announcement 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 ProAves."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 that had undergone significant reforestation and that effort continued. 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 1,000 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.

4th July 2014