The yellow-eared parrot of Colombia was thought to be extinct until 1998 when a tiny population of 81 was discovered in the Andes mountains. Equally surprising and welcome, is the very recent news that population has grown to 1,000. Because of the rebound, IUCN announced the rare bird’s conservation status has been downgraded from critically endangered to just endangered. Moving the bar in such a positive direction has been no easy feat, and has involved the efforts of 47 organizations around the world and 180 individuals. Over the last eleven years they have collaborated to protect the few remaining yellow-eared parrots, to conserve their natural habitat, and increase their numbers in the wild.
ABC’s President George Fenwick said, “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.”
In Colombia, the leading conservation organization Fundación ProAves played a key role. They designated a Parrot Conservation Corridor to protect the land where they live, and acquired 10,000 acres critical to their survival. Also they assisted with reforestation of those areas to rejuvenate their habitat. For the last seven years they managed a Next Box program which created nesting sites for the parrots. The additional nesting sites helped increase the parrot population directly. Another program to reduce consumption of the wax palm tree, which is a very important part of the parrot’s habitat, was begun. (The parrots live in these trees.) Wax palm tree conservation was supported also by the Catholic Church there, and it was effective.
For now, the parrots are doing much better, but even with a population rejuvenated to its current status, it remains endangered and still requires help.
The following organizations assisted in bringing the parrot population back from nearly dying out.
Image Credit: ProAves Fundacion