Dominica: Belal Moheb Parrots Park appeals to protect Imperial Amazon

Dominica: Belal Moheb Parrots Park appeals to protect Imperial Amazon

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Roseau, Dominica: Belal Moheb Parrots Park appealed the public to save and protect endangered parrots from Extinction the Imperial Amazon (Amazona imperialis) also known Dominican amazon or Sisserou Parrot, is a parrot found only in Dominica. It has been regarded as the national bird of Dominica.

As per the post by the parrots park, the conservation status: (CR) Category CR (Critically Endangered) in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The imperial Amazon’s current population stands only at about 250-350 mature individuals or less , in its natural habitat. Hurricane is one of the main reasons for the birds decline in population with poaching, hunting, and habitat loss being other reasons.

This species now has a ‘Critically Endangered’ status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, it is listed on Appendix I of CITES making trade in wild-caught birds illegal, and is also protected by local laws.

The number of birds has increased in the past few years, however, as of 2012, there were estimated to be only 250 – 350 individuals.

Population Trend: Increasing

Status and conservation: It is known to have declined significantly and numbered only 80-100 individuals in 1993. Conservation action increased the population to 150 birds by 2003. At present Morne Diablotin National Park and its surrounds are thought to hold 100-175 individuals, with 50-75 in the Central Forest Reserve and c.50 in Morne Trois Pitons National Park and its surrounds. The total population is estimated at 250-350 individuals.

The Imperial Amazon is considered a relict species. Because of its endemism on Dominica and the destruction of its habitat, its range will always be small. This, in combination with its low reproductive rate, means that the Imperial Amazon will always be relatively rare. Due to the species’ inherent shyness and very rugged home terrain, population estimates carry a fair degree of uncertainty. A 1990 estimate put the entire population at around eighty birds. The most recent field work (as of 1999) estimates a population of under 200 individuals. Threats to this species’ survival are multiple

Until the early 1980’s hunting was the most significant population limiting factor for Imperial Amazons. They were commonly shot for food both by Dominicans and hunters from neighboring Guadelupe, especially in the rainy season when they were fat and excellent eating. Dominican laws restricting parrot hunting were first enacted at least as early as the nineteenth century. By 1914 the hunting of parrots was completely banned. In the wake of Hurricane David a total ban on hunting all wildlife was enacted. Conservation Officers were hired to enforce the ban, which has brought the hunting problem mostly under control. Since about 1981 there has been little evidence of hunting pressure.

In the past, live parrots had been collected for the pet trade on Dominica through a practice called “wing shooting.” Because of high prices offered for live birds (mostly by residents of the island) and the inaccessibility of nests for collecting young, many locals attempted to wing-shoot the birds, which resulted in the deaths of many parrots. Collecting parrots in any manner for the pet trade is now illegal on Dominica. A compulsory registration program of all captive birds (with amnesty) has closed the market for Imperial Amazons on the island. Smuggling parrots off of the island for the international pet trade does not appear to be a significant threat at this time. However, unscrupulous foreign bird collectors continue attempts to acquire both Amazona species from Dominica.

The length of imperial amazon is around 48 cm. With males weighing around 900 g (32 oz), the weight of females is approx 650 g (23 oz), the species is large for its genus.

The Imperial Amazon (Imperial Parrot, Sisserou) is endemic to the island of Dominica in the Lesser Antilles. Formerly more widely distributed over the island, it is now confined to Mount Diablotin in northern Dominica, especially the upper Picard River Valley (Devil’s Valley) on the northwest side of the mountains.

The diet of sisserou consists of fruits, seeds, nuts, berries, blossoms and palm shoots

Education and awareness initiatives were begun in earnest around 1980 on Dominica. The Dominica Forestry Division conducts school visits, public lectures, radio broadcasts, poster and tee-shirt distribution, circulates a conservation education newsletter and produces a play called “Parrot Poachers.”

Habitat protection is extremely important to the continued existence of the Imperial Amazon. Adequate habitat is needed to support and rebuild the population, as well as a buffer zone in between the parrots and human activity. Parrot habitat has been extensively logged for valuable timber, charcoal production and conversion to cropland.