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Parrot Plan

Five-year plan to get St Vincent Parrot off Red List

In 1987, the founder of Loro Parque Fundacion undertook his first parrot conservation project, aimed at saving the globally threatened Red-necked Parrot Amazona arausiaca and Imperial Parrot A. imperialis, two endemic amazons on the Caribbean island of Dominica.

Now the Tenerife-based Fundacion has returned to Caribbean amazons, funding publication of the first species conservation plan for the St Vincent Parrot.

The wild population of St Vincent Parrot Amazona guildingii stands at between 500 and 600 birds. Threatened each year by hurricanes, and at more irregular intervals by volcanic eruptions which have drastically reduced numbers three times over the last century, the bird is also at risk from human activities. As a result BirdLife classifies the species as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.Habitat degradation has confined St Vincent Parrot to around 15 percent of its original range, and a proposed cross-country road threatens to open up remaining fragments of primary rainforest on which most of the breeding parrots depend. Unscrupulous collectors are ready to pay high prices for this rare and beautiful bird, and significant numbers of young birds and eggs have been smuggled off the island in recent years. But the exotic bird trade goes two ways, and St Vincent Parrots are also at risk from diseases imported with other Psittaciformes like lovebirds and budgerigars.

The Conservation Plan has three overall objectives. Most important is to improve habitat and protect the wild-living birds until the sustainable maximum population is reached, and the St Vincent Parrot can be removed from the IUCN Red List. But with natural and man-made disasters in mind, a viable captive-breeding population needs to be maintained within and outside St Vincent. Thirdly, the absolute need to protect and conserve St Vincent Parrot must be enshrined in national legislation and culture.

After a thorough review of current and historical data on the species, the Plan provides detailed action plans for achieving the conservation objectives over five years, from proper demarcation of the boundaries of the existing St Vincent Parrot Reserve, through control of parrot smuggling and importation of exotic species, to training teams of guards and researchers to monitor and protect the bird into the future.

4th July 2014