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Brazil's parrots

Robert Alison provides an insight into how ecotourism might help the plight of the many parrots and conures that are trapped for the pet trade every year.

Brazil is one of the most ecologically-diverse nations in the world. Hoping to capitalize on highly lucrative ecotourism, the Brazilian government has recently undertaken dramatic wildlife conservation measures. Psittacids are expected to be major beneficiaries.

But, Brazil’s $1bn illegal pet trade targets many highly desirable psittacids. Domestic and international demands for Brazil’s parrots is enormous. According to a recent report by researchers David Pearson and Les Beletsky, domestic aviculture is an “iconic (activity) in all classes of Brazilian society”. Over 70 percent of wild-taken parrots are sold domestically, despite harsh laws that prohibit possession of wild-caught psittacids.

According to researchers at the Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos, the poaching of nestlings is the major cause for psittacid declines in Brazil. “Poaching parrots is an economic activity, driven by the demand of the illegal pet trade,” the researchers confirmed. A recent report by scientists at the Universidade Estadual Pauliste concludes that parrots are among the most popular pets in Brazil, especially Amazons.

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