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Canadian Projects

Canadian Blog

by Barry Kent MacKay,
Senior Program Associate

Born Free USA's Canadian Representative


Barry is an artist, both with words and with paint. He has been associated with our organization for nearly three decades and is our go-to guy for any wildlife question. He knows his animals — especially birds — and the issues that affect them. His blogs will give you just the tip of his wildlife-knowledge iceberg, so be sure to stay and delve deeper into his Canadian Project articles. If you like wildlife and reading, Barry's your man. (And we're happy to have him as part of our team, too!)

NBD Special (Part VIII): The Plight of Scarlet Macaws

Published 01/17/12

(Editor’s note: This is the eighth in a two-month series of blogs written by Barry from Canada and, from her perch at our Sacramento headquarters in Northern California, Senior Program Associate Monica Engebretson. Their “blog-off” is part of Born Free USA’s celebration of National Bird Day, which every year falls on Jan. 5.)

Monica writes:

A scarlet macaw

Many U.S. citizens seem to think that the problem of capturing and trading wild parrots for the pet trade was solved with the passage of the U.S. Wild Bird Conservation Act in 1992, which effectively reduced the United States from the largest importer of wild-caught birds to one of the smallest. The passage of the act was a major victory.

We won the battle but we have not yet won the war.

Trade in parrots internationally and within their countries of origin remains a major threat to global parrot populations and causes immense suffering to thousands of individual parrots.

Poor to no enforcement of international and local laws continues to be a major conservation challenge, especially where illegal practices are viewed as socially acceptable at the local level. In Latin America, illegal wildlife trade is second only to narcotics trade, and parrots are one of the most affected. The beauty and charisma of parrots have combined to become their curse. Magnificent scarlet macaws once flew in abundance over much of Latin America. Today their numbers have drastically fallen as the beautiful birds are under constant and sustained threat from deforestation and poaching.

But here is some good news.

A project in Honduras that is supported in part by Born Free USA has been a resounding success. With the support from Born Free and others, the communities of Rus Rus and Mabita organized parrot patrols to combat poaching.

As a direct result of their efforts, 11 scarlet macaw chicks confiscated directly from poachers were to be given care until they are old enough to fly. So far, six of the chicks are now flying free and returning the enclosure at night for food and protection.

Because of the “parrot patrols” these young parrots will be able to stay in the wild near to their flocks and families, instead of spending the rest of their lives in small cages.The confiscation and release of confiscated birds back into the wild is no easy task, but this amazing dedicated team and community made this miracle a reality.

They need our continued support to keep scarlet macaws flying free in Honduras!

Recently I received this e-mai from Dr. LoraKim Joyner of Lafeber Conservation and Wildlife:

“I just sent the last of the Born Free funds to pay for the free flying macaws in Mabita, Honduras. Your donation has literally kept those birds flying free near their parents and extended families. The local people were able to confiscate 11 birds and release them, softly. They still have to feed them daily and your funds allowed for cages, transport, and the daily feeding. Now we are looking for funds to pay the parrot patrols for the coming year.”

Find out more about how you can help keep scarlet macaws flying free.

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