Defenders’ efforts to combat the illegal parrot trade in Mexico are working. Data on the number of birds seized by authorities over the past eight years show the illegal bird trade is declining. Last year only 566 parrots were seized by authorities, down nearly a third from the year before and the lowest number in almost ten years!
“A decrease in the illegal trade is very good news for the conservation of endangered parrots of Mexico,” reports Defenders’ Mexico Program Director Juan Carlos Cantu. “It shows that trade bans do work when accompanied by a broad communications campaign to enlist the help of the people to stop buying wild parrots.”
In 2008, following the release of a major report produced by Defenders, Mexico finally banned the capture and export of wild parrots. After the ban, Defenders began a campaign to promote understanding of the new laws and create awareness and appreciation of these threatened birds. Through radio talk shows, posters, children’s coloring books and teaching kits for educators we have sought to educate people about the parrots’ plight and deter the purchase of these birds.
Our efforts to raise awareness appear to be working. The number of reports filed regarding illegal parrot sales in Mexico has increased dramatically since the 2008 ban and the launch of our education campaign.
“It is a good beginning but we still have a long road to go before we can save parrots from extinction,” says Cantu.
Next to habitat loss, trapping is the greatest threat to the birds’ survival in Mexico, affecting 19 endangered parrot species, such as the yellow-headed and red-crowned parrot. According to a 2007 Defenders’ report, trappers capture roughly 65,000 to 78,500 parrots annually. As many as 75 percent of these (nearly 58,000) die during transport under horrible conditions. The ones that do survive are typically severely traumatized or injured.
This inhumane and devastating practice must be stopped before these national treasures disappear from the wild completely.
Defenders continues its public awareness campaign across Mexico while monitoring reports and seizures of illegally caught birds. The campaign aims to combat poaching by eliminating the demand for wild parrots and promote bird-watching as an alternative to keeping parrots as pets.
What You Can Do
Defenders of Wildlife urges U.S. consumers not to purchase parrots that lack proper documentation so as not to inadvertently support the illegal parrot trade. Determine if your parrot is legal before you buy.
Learn more about the U.S. demand for parrots here.