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Dear Parrots magazine,

Releases of captive-bred endangered parrots

I was very interested in EB Cravens’ claim in the August issue that ‘captive breeding and release of a wealth of endangered parrots in international conservation programmes from Asia to Africa and the Caribbean’ proves that captive-bred parrots can survive in the wild.

Perhaps EB can enlighten us about this? I checked with Rowan Martin, Programmes Director for Africa for The World Parrot Trust and he does not know of any such releases in Africa. I have never heard of such programmes for Asia. I checked with Avin Deen, an authority on Indian parrots, and he told me, “Captive-bred parakeets have not been released to the best of my knowledge. There are no conservation breeding programmes. Even Indian zoos give more attention to exotic species like macaws and neglect the native species.” 

No captive-bred parrots have been released in Indonesia, only confiscated birds, trapped illegally, so perhaps EB can also enlighten us on his remark about Asia.

There have been release of captive-bred parrots in the Caribbean and the results have been poor. It is very sad that most of the Puerto Rican Parrots bred in situ for release have not survived. For example, from 2006 to 2008, 90 young were produced at the Rio Abajo facility. During that period more than 60 Puerto Rican Parrots were released, initially with 22 birds in 2006. Some had radio transmitters attached to them so it is known that hawk predation almost immediately caused the deaths of six of the 22 birds. By 2008, 60 had been released, but in 2009 the wild population in the Rio Abajo forest numbered only between 32 and 40 birds.

Ricardo Valentin and his team at Rio Abajo have had wonderful results with the captive birds in recent years. Sadly the wild population was badly hit by the hurricanes of 2017 and the original El Yunque population is now believed to be extinct. Some of the small population of released birds in the Rio Abajo forest survived.

So let us be realistic about releases of captive-bred parrots. There are successful projects in the Neotropics – not in the regions he mentioned.

Rosemary Low, by email



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