A joyful day...the signing of the Act to establish the rescue center!
One Earth Conservation is headquartered in White Plains, NY, but we
work mostly in Central America. Together with our fiscal sponsor, Foster
Parrots, I work with native people in countries such as Honduras and
Nicaragua to save wild parrots who are in extreme danger of going extinct. Demand
for them as pets, both in the US and abroad, has helped to create this problem. This work is not only saving the birds, but the people as well.
In 2010, a leader of indigenous people, Tomás, nearly died for his
dedication to the land and animals of La Moskitia, Honduras. This
happened when he became tired of the ongoing loss his people experienced and
decided to report the names of the robbers who had come to his land for illegal
logging, ranching, and parrot poaching. The authorities did nothing to help,
but instead stood idle while the nefarious elements that had been threatening
his people waited for Tomás one day down at the river and shot him four
times. While he was fighting for his life, the villagers fled for their
lives, for some had their homes burned and others received death threats.
Just five months later, Tomás returned to his
ancestral lands with me and others to see about helping the Miskito people with
their desire to protect their endangered scarlet macaw. Armed soldiers
had to accompany us to the nearly deserted village, for the danger was still
present for Tomás and us as well.
Down at the river with parrots flying over,
Tomás showed me his scars and recovering wounds. I asked him why he was willing
to risk his life to return to help his parrots and he said, “Doctora,
everything is at risk, and I’m willing to risk everything. If the birds don’t
make it, neither do my people.” Ever since that day, he and his people
have been taking a stand, taking risks to keep their sustainable way of life
intact and these rainbow birds flying free.
They now have “parrot patrols” to protect the
nests, and take in confiscated parrots from the military and forestry
department. They have volunteered to do this since 2010 with very little help
in terms of resources or training. They have had to decide when to feed the
birds, and when to feed themselves. Yet they continue to care for the
birds, isolated to face the challenges on their own.
This is no longer the case!
This year in May of 2015, I signed an Act to
form the Rescue and Liberation center of Mabita with the new Co-Directors, Oneida
and Santiago. We did this because the situation is desperate and the government
and villagers must have a place to take care of confiscated birds so that they
can be liberated in the future.
Oneida and Santiago agreed to take care of all
birds that came to them, and One Earth Conservation would in turn pay
them a salary and cover all costs for food and supplies. We also need to build
a flight/release cage. One Earth did this even though it is not in our
budget to do so, and there is not any guarantee that income will be
forthcoming. But everyone felt they could wait no longer – it had to be
done. And in fact, 13 chicks have come to the village in the last few months. The Co-Directors and other volunteers have already proven they
can care for the chicks. For example, they saved Rosa, who came to them as a chick with two broken wings and legs, likely
damaged when forcibly removed from the nest. She nearly died, but is alive
today, wobbly for sure but able to take short flights. She has a chance
to live longer and well thanks to Oneida and Santiago. To find out more about
the project and to watch a 20-minute documentary, go here.