Above: The Imperial: the national bird of Dominica. Two Imperials, along with 10 red-necked parrots, exported to Germany via St Lucia were originally displayed in Dominica’s Botanic Gardens. Government officials said these birds were by no means being kept for a conservation programme

 

TWO PARROT SPECIES endemic to the forests of Dominica in the Caribbean have been legally exported to Germany, as part of an urgent captive breeding programme.

On March 17, 10 red-necked (Amazona arausiaca) and two Imperial parrots (A. imperialis) were transported to the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots (ACTP) breeding facility near Berlin.

Arrangements between German authorities were made, and the birds were exported (with CITES documentation) from display aviaries at Dominica’s Botanic Gardens. Officials say all security measures were taken to ensure the parrots arrived safely at their destination.

The new breeding programme for both species comes after Hurricane Maria decimated the island’s forests and the birds’ habitat last September.

Parrot expert Rosemary Low told Cage & Aviary Birds: “The magnificent Imperial is an Endangered species due to its small range, with a population formerly estimated at about 300 (2012 assessment).

“The red-necked has a much wider range on Dominica, thus was better able to tolerate the hurricanes (two in short succession). There has been great concern for the survival of the Imperial parrot as not more than 15 birds have been seen since January this year.”

In fear that the birds would be further impacted with the pending hurricane season – and the possibility of extinction – the Government of Dominica called for the captive breeding programme.

Ms Low continued: “This was urgent – virtually no forest cover had survived in the habitat of the Imperial parrot, known locally as the Sisserou.”

In a statement released on March 20, Dr Reginald Thomas, permanent secretary of Dominica’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, shot down media reports that the birds were “smuggled” with no public knowledge of the export. He explained that there were no facilities for breeding parrots on Dominica and those kept for display in the Botanical Gardens had suffered health issues.

He said: “We could not in our moral and ethical judgement allow the birds to remain hoping that they would survive. We must make the best decision so that future generations benefit… we will take all possible measures to protect the island’s biodiversity.”

Hear Dr Reginald Thomas’s full statement at: https://youtu.be/8eXoOy76L4g

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