May 1, 2012
The critically endangered Fuertes's Parrot and 11 other globally threatened species of birds, mammals, and amphibians will receive greater protections thanks to a joint effort by Fundación ProAves, WLT-US, Loro Parque Fundación, American Bird Conservancy, and WLT-US Board member Robert Giles. These organizations joined forces to acquire approximately 356 acres of land to double the size of the existing Giles-Fuertesi Nature Reserve. The reserve is being managed by Fundación ProAves--the leading conservation organization in Colombia.
With fewer than 250 individuals thought to exist, the beautifully colored Fuertes's Parrot is one of the world's rarest birds. Also known as the Indigo-winged Parrot, it was thought to be extinct for 90 years but was rediscovered in 2002 when ProAves biologists discovered a small population of about a dozen individuals living in fragmented and unprotected high-Andean cloud forests at the site of this reserve. The Fuertes's sole breeding habitat remains a 19-square-mile area. The main threat to the parrots comes from forests containing key nesting sites being logged and cleared for farming, cattle ranching, and mining.
"The Fuertes's Parrot is endemic to Colombia and exists only in the wild at two sites where it depends on epiphytic mistletoe fruits," said Lina Daza, Executive Director of Fundación ProAves. "So with our partners support to secure private lands for its conservation, we have ensured a new and important lease of life to this wonderful parrot and a major step away from the abyss of extinction."
"With one of the world's largest discoveries of gold recently uncovered by AngloGold Ashanti just miles from this key population of the Fuertes's Parrot and with the risk of deforestation sharply rising, we were able to quickly respond to the urgent request of our Colombian partner and assist them in buying and permanently protecting this critical site," said Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO of WLT-US.
Since the Fuertes's Parrot was rediscovered, WLT-US and its partners have worked hard to protect its tiny range. In 2004, ProAves conducted a pilot nest box project that was a huge success thanks to the support of Loro Parque Fundación. By early 2005, 23 pairs of the parrots were nesting in these boxes--all successfully raising broods. In 2009, the Giles-Fuertesi Reserve was established and now protects roughly one fifth of the global population of the Fuertes's Parrot.
ProAves and other conservation groups have established a series of reserves known collectively as the Threatened Parrot Corridor, which includes one municipal and three private reserves, all managed by ProAves. With the new additions, these reserves conserve over 18,000 acres of key habitat and protect approximately 70% of the Fuertes's Parrot population, as well as populations of four other species of imperiled parrots: the Yellow-eared Parrot, Rusty-faced Parrot, the Golden-plumed Parakeet, and the Rufous-fronted Parakeet.