Friday 19 October, 2018

Pet trade threatening T&T's blue and yellow macaws

When last have you seen a blue and yellow macaw outside of a cage?

One group is trying to preserve the country's blue and yellow macaws and stop them from being consumed by the illegal pet trade.

Conservation Leadership in the Caribbean (CLiC), has launched an online fundraiser to implement a conservation strategy.

The group says wild blue and gold macaws are being threatened by habitat loss, weak enforcement of existing wildlife conservation laws and, most notably, the pet trade on Trinidad.

Trinidad and Tobago is the last remaining Caribbean country with a native large macaw.

The project aims to work to keep the macaws out of the illegal pet trade, advocate for the humane ethical care of companion macaws, and build community support for wild macaw conservation through education.

This project is a continuation of the work of Trinidadian conservationist Dr Bernadette Plair, who successfully reintroduced the blue and gold macaw to Trinidad.

The young scientists are Aliya, Cathlene, and Kimberly, all Fellows in the Conservation Leadership in the Caribbean (CLiC) Fellowship program.

Their plan to protect the macaws involves listening to local communities, working with them, and helping both wild and captive macaws to thrive in a safe environment.

The group said according to reports from the Forestry Division, hundreds of permits are granted yearly for keeping pet Blue and Gold Macaws, which shows that the bird is still heavily targeted for the pet trade.

Permits are required for caged birds

The group is conducting a series of sessions including training in caring for these birds for first-time owners. 

"Once in captivity it is usually difficult to return these Macaws to their natural habitats. The fellows believe that Blue and Gold Macaws deserve to thrive, whether in native forests and Palm swamp wetlands, or as companion animals," the group said.

"Conducting a workshop for macaw owners will convey the message that pet macaws are still macaws; that wild-caught macaws are generally unsuitable pets; and that captive macaws are frequently unable to survive in their natural habitats if returned after being abandoned or ill-cared for."

The group said the workshop will:

- Educate and instruct participants on the humane care and ethical treatment of captive birds

- Review the permitting and registration needs

- Introduce participants to banding/micro-chipping of pet macaws and its advantages

- Encourage support for a wild Blue and Gold Macaw conservation program

The group is also working with international experts in the humane care of animals, wildlife crime experts, and pro-conservation behavior-change practitioners and researchers to build the capacity of two key State agencies to better understand and support Blue & Gold Macaw care and conservation.

The fellows will train the staff of the Division of Forestry and other key local institutions whose mandate include the rehabilitation of native fauna, through an intensive workshop that will communicate the finer points of the care and rehabilitation of macaws. This hands-on learning will be facilitated by the internationally-renowned expert staff of Phoenix Landing.

Fellows will also hold sensitization workshop with the police and judiciary to workshop the results of their research and best practices in wildlife-crimes management.

The fellows expect to uncover how the macaw pet trade operates on the island and show what practical and promising solutions exist, like improving compliance and enforcement at the nation’s ports of entry.

They also aim to show how science-based research is vital to inform policies and management that support macaw conservation programs in Trinidad, the Caribbean, and beyond.

Persons choosing to donate can receive various items including honey, books, and other educational items about the blue and gold macaw. 

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