POPULATION SAVED FOR THE LONG-TERM?
Only few years ago, the St. Lucia amazon, endemic to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, ranked among the rarest birds in the world. Trafficking and natural disasters forced the species to the brink of extinction. Only thanks to dedicated and persistent efforts of the Government of St. Lucia and few supporters, the species is considered stable today.
ACTP is official partner of the Government of St. Lucia and supports required protection and breeding measures to guarantee the long-term survival of the species.
The St. Lucia amazon (Amazona versicolor), endemic to the small island of St. Lucia, experienced a remarkable comeback in the past 30 years. In the mid-70ies, the bird population living in the wild decreased to around 100 birds, due to illegal trafficking and destruction of the natural habitat. As a consequence the species was ranked as highly endangered and draw the attention of international wildlife protection efforts.
PROTECTION MEASURES AND THEIR SUCCESS
Protection measures for the remaining rainforest areas on St. Lucia and the implementation of laws prohibiting local and international trafficking showed increasing success. Since then, the population of the St. Lucia amazon has risen constantly and recovered. A national census, financed by ACTP in 2009, revealed a population size of around 1,750 to 2,250 birds.
POPULATION ALREADY SAVED FOR THE LONG-TERM?
Nevertheless, the limitation of a species to such a small area, pressured by a growing population and frequently occurring natural disasters, does not give reason to consider the survival of the St. Lucia amazon as permanently secured. The Government of St. Lucia and ACTP are well aware that especially natural disasters can put the population of the St. Lucia amazon rapidly under pressure once again.
Since the population of the St. Lucia amazon is currently being considered relatively stable, attention of conservationists on St. Lucia and ACTP are focused on the long-term survival of the species in the wild. For this reason, the Government of St. Lucia and ACTP agreed on a joint approach for the sustainable and long-term survival of the species.
The collaboration between St. Lucia and ACTP includes a broad range of protection and wildlife conservation measures. A major part of the collaboration comprises an innovative wildlife protection concept, in which animals will contribute to their own protection in the long-run. Under the slogan “Can wildlife pay for itself”, new and innovative ways will be explored and implemented, ensuring the generation of financial funds to cover wildlife protection measures in the long-run.
Specifically, the collaboration between St. Lucia and ACTP consists of the following measures:
1. Comprehensive population counts:
In 2009, a detailed census of St. Lucia amazons in the wild has been conducted, to accurately determine the status of the species. The obtained figures form the basis for population counts in the future, giving the possibility to identify trends at early stages. ACTP supported the census through substantial financial resources.
2. Equipment of the Forestry Department:
In order to conduct population counts, ACTP donated essential technical equipment. Among other things, GPS-devices, four-wheel drive vehicles and laptops were purchased.
3. Education of Forestry staff through training:
The collaboration between St. Lucia and ACTP also includes the training of employees of the Forestry Department in the area of wildlife protection. ACTP was able to finance several education measures for Forestry staff.
4. Reconstruction projects after the catastrophic destruction caused by Hurricane Tomas:
In 2010, Hurricane Tomas hit the island of St. Lucia with full force and became one of the most severe natural disasters on the island since 1980. Damages and losses for various economic sectors amounted to approx. US$336 mio. Large parts of the economy were paralyzed and large parts of the rainforest, the habitat of the St. Lucia amazon, were destroyed. ACTP supported reconstruction and recovery efforts through a donation of €100,000.
Furthermore, the collaboration between the Government of St. Lucia and ACTP includes the construction of a Wildlife Conservation and Education Center (WCEC) on the island of St. Lucia. The objective of the WCEC is to educate and to raise awareness of the local population as well as tourists for environmental and wildlife protection measures.
These protective measures will also benefit other species on the island. Species that are today even more endangered than the St. Lucia amazon.
ACTP BREEDING PROGRAM
In 2010, the Government of St. Lucia and ACTP signed a joint breeding loan agreement for the St. Lucia amazon. Based on this agreement, all parrots already located in Europe were transferred to the breeding facilities of ACTP. Furthermore, birds from breeding facilities in St. Lucia where transferred to Germany.
Primary objective of the breeding program is the development of a safety population in case of natural disasters. A genetically stable safety population is intended to act as insurance for the worst case.