Above: Welcomed package: three of the newly arrived St Lucia parrots at ACTP’s safety-net population in Germany. Photo: ACTP e.V Facebook Page

 

A “PARCEL” OF parrots arrived in Germany recently to boost the numbers and gene pool of St Lucia Amazons (Amazona versicolor) in a safety net population.

The Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots (ACTP) began the project several years ago, establishing a population outside St Lucia that could be returned to their country of origin should the need arise. The devastating effect of Hurricane Maria in 2017 on both human and wildlife populations on nearby Dominica emphasised how necessary this is. This species is classified as Vulnerable in the wild on the IUCN Red List.

Staff at the Forestry Department of St Lucia have been monitoring the birds in their habitat, as well as analysing their nests and breeding events. They have also started collecting chicks from nests to strengthen the breeding population within the ACTP programme by introducing young birds collected from different parts of the island in order to get variable genetics. This will provide a real boost for the German safety-net population, many of which are no longer able to breed due to their age or physical condition.

A spokesperson from the ACTP said: “The new birds will contribute a significant rejuvenation of this safety-net population and, very importantly, increase the genetic variability. All of the newcomers arrived safely and happily in Germany and are currently in our quarantine station.”

While doing this work it has become obvious that previous data relating to the number of individual St Lucia Amazons and their predators is out of date. It transpires that chick-loss rate is much higher than previously thought due to attacks by two predators, the possum and the boa constrictor, both protected species on the island. Ten out of 40 nests inspected had been visited by these two animals. This has a massive impact on the St Lucia population and a census to determine current numbers of birds is due to be carried out.

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