BirdsCaribbean questions export of

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

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The bird conservation group BirdsCaribbean recently released a statement questioning the legality and scientific merit of the export of rare parrots from Dominica to Germany, and joined over a dozen international groups petitioning the United Nations to investigate and help return the parrots to their native island.

In its statement, BirdsCaribbean explained that in March this year, 12 wild parrots of two rare species were taken from an aviary where they were recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Maria which hit the tiny island in 2017.

The alarm bells went off, it said, because both species, the Sisserou and the Jaco, are found only in Dominica, with the Sisserou designated the island's national bird and featured on the country's flag.

“We are alarmed by this and we hope to bring these birds back to Dominica,” said BirdsCaribbean Executive Director Lisa Sorenson. “We also want to prevent the future trafficking of rare birds under the pretense of conservation.”

The Sisserou is also called Imperial Amazon or Dominican Amazon, while the Jaco or Jacquot is also called Red-necked Amazon, Red-necked Parrot, Dominican Blue-faced Amazon, or lesser Dominican Amazon.

Their endemism aside, BirdsCaribbean has also raised questions about whether proper permits were obtained to export the parrots given the strict rules that exist for the trade of endangered species.

In a now removed post on its website titled Dominica: Amazons on the Edge of Extinction, the organisation that took the birds — Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots — described the move as “a partnership with the Government of Dominica to help save the island's two endemic Amazon species – the Imperial and Red-necked Amazons”.

But BirdsCaribbean remains unconvinced.

“Captive breeding programmes can help some rare species, but it seems unlikely in this case,” the NGO said on its website. “Post-Maria, both kinds of parrots are recovering in the wild on Dominica. The aviary birds taken were healthy and expected to be ready for release back into the wild soon. The number of parrots taken, including just two Sisserou parrots, is too few to start a breeding programme. This raises questions about the scientific merit of the actions and if there are plans for capturing and exporting more birds in the future.”

“Usually, many experts take part in the decision to start a captive breeding programme and there are strict rules for the trade of endangered species [but] this export was a surprise to all,” according to BirdsCaribbean.

Further, the regional conservation group said the Sisserou and the Jaco had the care they needed in local facilities on Dominica and argued that it is better to help parrots in their home country with help from outside as needed.

“Local authorities and the people of Dominica are the ultimate stewards of these species and should be empowered as such,” it argued.

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