Roving Classroom Helps Rare Parrot Once Feared Extinct
(Washington, D.C. ? March 5, 2008) American Bird Conservancy?s partner group Fundaci?n ProAves has established the first private protected area for the critically endangered Fuertes?s Parrot. The species, whose population size is estimated at just 160 individuals, lives only in a small area in the Andes of Colombia that is heavily impacted by deforestation.
?Until recently, the Fuertes?s Parrot was feared to be extinct,? said Paul Salaman, American Bird Conservancy?s Director of International Programs. ?The species inhabits a cloud forest threatened by clearance for cattle ranching and agriculture. By conserving the remaining patches of forest and taking other steps to help this species, we hope to see its numbers rebound.?

Fuertes?s Parrot. Photo: Fundaci?n ProAves,

In 2002, Fundaci?n ProAves? President Alonso Quevedo found a flock of 14 Fuertes?s Parrots (or Indigo-winged Parrots), and confirmed the survival of a species that had last been seen in 1911.

The 1,500 acre reserve is in the same area, and at the core of a site identified by the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) as essential to maintain this species. The AZE, a coalition of biodiversity conservation organizations from around the world, prioritizes protection for endangered and critically endangered species, such as the Fuertes?s Parrot, that are in their last remaining refuge.

The reserve, a joint project of American Bird Conservancy, ProAves, and IUCN NL/SPN, sponsored by the Netherlands Postcode Lottery, and supported by Robert Giles and Robert Wilson, consolidates a 5,000 acre zone of protected lands with the municipality of Genova in the department of Quind?o. A management plan and guidance on how to conserve the Fuertes?s Parrot have been developed for the area, and an education and outreach program to local communities is underway.

?Public education together with forest protection is critical for the long term conservation of the Fuertes?s Parrot,? said Alonso Quevedo. ?Since 2005, the ProAves ?Parrot Bus? has brought the conservation message to communities across the Central Andes, the priority zone for threatened parrots and biodiversity in Colombia.?
The Parrot Bus has proven to be a practical way of reaching the remotest rural communities and represents an important mechanism for gaining support for conservation actions. The Parrot Bus helps to protect Fuertes?s Parrot and acts as a mobile environmental education classroom. Since its first tour in 2005 it has reached over 70,000 children and adults who have attended demonstrations and workshops, and received information on the conservation of birds and their habitats. This education project has been made possible by support from the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund.

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