Above: El Oro parakeet: a rare and shy species. No more than 1,500 individuals may persist, and possibly as few as 350. Photo: Emma Steigerwald  


THE ILLEGAL PARROT trade in the bird-rich nation of Ecuador has declined steeply in some areas, say researchers.

Since 2001, Loro Parque Fundación and the Ecuadorian NGO Fundación Jocotoco have worked together to improve the conservation of the Endangered El Oro parakeet (Pyrrhura orcesi). As part of their work, the organisations have monitored the main markets for parrot trade on either side of Ecuador’s border with Peru.

They believe one factor that may be helping to reduce illegal bird trade in Huaquillas market (on the Ecuadorian side) is the high military and police presence at the border due to the numerous refugees from Venezuela. But on the Peruvian side, exotic species of birds – presumed illegally caught – are much more commonly seen.

Species that are regularly traded include red-masked parakeet (Psittacara erythrogenys; Near Threatened), grey-cheeked parakeet (Brotogerys pyrrhoptera; Endangered and lilacine Amazon (Amazona lilacina; Endangered).

While the El Oro parakeet – which is restricted to a small area of south-western Ecuador – is not usually traded or kept in captivity, it is being used as a flagship species to address the broader issue of the capture and trade of parrots in the region.

A recent exception is one rescued individual that is being kept with permission from the Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment.

Dr David Waugh, correspondent for Loro Parque Fundación, said: “The good news is that in the first half of 2019 the project did not find in trade any of the above-mentioned parrots.

“But the monitoring needs to be extended, because reports have been received that local people in the north of El Oro province have started illegal trafficking as a way to make extra money.”

Loro Parque Fundación and Fundación Jocotoco are working to help the El Oro parakeet and other species in the 2,200ha Buena­ventura Reserve (owned by Jocotoco), and on land identified for the El Oro Ecological Corridor, which is slowly being established.

  • Special thanks to Dr David Waugh, LPF correspondent, for his help with this story.

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