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Forestry Division preparing for parrot census

Forestry Division preparing for parrot census

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OFFICERS AT THE Forestry Division in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries are making preparations to do a count of the St Vincent parrot later this year.

The UNDP is providing support to undertake the labour intensive parrot census which Bradford Latham, Wild Life Officer with responsibility for Law Compliance and Enforcement, told SEARCHLIGHT will require about 60 persons stationed at five designated points.

The Division is looking to undertake the parrot count in August this year but in the meantime “there is a lot to do, getting access routes and clearing pathways”, Latham said.

When a parrot counting exercise is carried out, it would usually begin around March/April “on the heels of the mating season when chicks are expected to have been hatched”, but it was during that period when the Soufriere volcano began erupting explosively.

What the wild life officers have been seeing is that parrots have made their way out of the denuded forests and many have “taken up residence near the farm lands” where they are competing with the farmers for fruits.

Latham said farmers have been reporting sitings in areas such as Congo Valley and Bamboo range, and the Forestry Division has been working with them so they will not disturb nor capture any of the birds, which are a protected species. And, they discontinued the replenishment of feeding stations which had been erected at strategic points for parrots and other wild life as the mango and plumrose season started.

The Division will be including forest plants such as Spanish ash which the parrots use for food, when they undertake a reforestation exercise.

It has been a while since a count has been made of this country’s national bird, the Amazona Guildingi; there are an estimated 500 parrots in the wild.

As the eruptions began, a number of regional and international entities reached out to the Forestry Division to make inquiries particularly about endemic species, and offer material and other support.

The Houston Zoo in Texas, USA, which houses adult St Vincent parrots, is one such body which has provided assistance.

“Back in the 1970s, zoo staff successfully bred the St. Vincent Parrot in captivity to help boost its population and has been active in helping the species ever since”, a release from the zoo states.

“So naturally, when the volcano erupted months ago, zoo staff reached out to the St. Vincent Forestry Department to give support in any way they could”.