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Help ARCAS to save Yellow-naped Amazon parrots in Guatemala!

ARCAS is a wildlife conservation and environmental education NPO based in Guatemala that annually funds the rescue of between 200 and 600 wild animals confiscated from wildlife traffickers operating in Guatemala, and rescues up to 50,000 sea turtle eggs from poachers (no pun intended), releasing the hatchlings back into the Pacific Ocean.

One of my old friends from my Japan days, Colum Muccio is one of the ARCAS directors and he regularly sends me news updates. 

Today he sent me a mixture of good and bad news and the September 2021 edition of the COLORES Newsletter . The ARCAS project to save Yellow-naped Amazon parrots (Amazona auropalliata) is known as Colores.

ARCAS is now an officially registered 501(c)3 charity in the USA and can receive help from people working for the government and armed forces (and retirees) through the Combined Federal Campaign

Colum Muccio of ARCAS

Colum Muccio, ARCAS Director.

Colum writes “Without a doubt, this year was a tough one. We lost a stalwart defender of wildlife, our good friend Pedro Viteri (murdered by poachers while attempting to defend a Yellow-naped Amazon parrot nest), and the pandemic continues to disrupt lives, businesses, and our work.”

ARCAS’ work is very dependent on both volunteers and funding donations, and both have been impacted by the pandemic.

“However, in the midst of these grave challenges, COLORES also made some advancements in its work saving the parrots of Guatemala.
Here, we are presenting our 2021 count and nest monitoring data, and educational and enforcement efforts. Although we are presenting these data, we also acknowledge that due to a lack of resources and the inherent difficulty of counting parrots and determining nesting success, these data are not as precise as we would like, and we need to continue improving our methodology, which requires more presence in the field, which in turn requires more staffing and funding.

Our experience with protecting nests is mixed. Nests can be poached in areas relatively close to homes and where guards or farm workers reside or patrol. Poachers know the terrain and the
habits of guards and even closely-guarded nests can be poached. Trees that are dead or rotten and unsafe to climb, or that have bee hives, can offer some protection, as can deep or difficult to access nest cavities. Also we continue to only identify a small number of active nests each year so we really can’t generalize and say what is happening in other areas apart from our hotspots…”

“In April, we held the first annual Pedro Viteri luncheon where we shared results, experiences,
grief, and motivation. During this time we outlined some plans for the future:

1. Place as many artificial nest boxes as possible. This is an activity in which we can easily involve students, new hot spot collaborators, and other people and organizations. We need to form a climbing team that can safely climb trees and place nests

2. Work with CONAP, DIPRONA and hotspot owners to better enforce wildlife laws and prevent
poaching in the hotspots and on trafficking routes. This has been made more difficult with the
onset of the Coronavirus pandemic and with the general lack of security in the area, but it is
something that must be strengthened.

3. As much as funding allows, increase education and awareness-raising efforts.

4. As much as funding allows, increase the monitoring and protection of nests, and increase the
precision of our population counts and fledgling success estimates.

5. Involve more local residents in these activities, providing meaningful livelihoods and promoting
ecotourism as an economic alternative.

6. Include additional hotspots in the COLORES program.

7. Funding permitting, unify efforts to save the yellow-naped amazon on the Pacific coast with
similar efforts being carried out on the Caribbean to save the yellow-headed amazon (Amazona
oratrix), two species that are genetically very closely related and who face some of the same

Later in the report,Muccio writes “This year, we are grateful to have the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and the Wagmore Foundation join us in the fight to save the yellow-naped amazon in Guatemala. ABC is helping
us with anti-trafficking posters, billboards and enforcement patrols. The Wagmore Foundation is
helping us with the installation of artificial nests and with environmental education activities.

Based on a teacher’s kit developed in Mexico by Defenders of Wildlife/Teyeliz (Thank you!),
we developed a teacher’s guide on the parrots of Guatemala and we are currently developing a
parrot coloring book for primary school students. These publications are available on the
ARCAS website. And, as always, our many thanks to Dr. Joyner and One Earth Conservation,
as well as Colum Muccio and Manuel Galindo of ARCAS, CONAP, and all our hot spot collaborators for their continued support to the COLORES effort. We a really happy with the progress we have made so far in the project, but there is SO much more to be done!

Luncheon and meeting held in honor of Pedro Viteri in the Tarrales Reserve
Photo and copyright Manuel Galindo.

Read all in Colores Newsletter …