Over the past 20 years, the population of the yellow-naped Amazon parrot in Central America has declined by more than 50% as a result of deforestation and the illegal removal of the birds from the environment to be sold on the black market as pets. Not only are these birds emblematic of the dry tropical forest ecosystems, but they are crucial to the health of the forests. Yellow-naped Amazon parrots are important seed dispersers, and in losing them we lose the ability to regenerate the fragmented forests in the Paso del Istmo Biological Corridor. In 2007, in partnership with Loro Parque Fundacion, we did a study to assess nest success of the yellow-naped Amazon parrots in southwest Nicaragua and found that less than a quarter of nests were successful. The remainder of the nests were being destroyed by poachers or taken over by nest competitors.
In response, Paso Pacifico began an incentive program to pay community members to protect nests. For each successful fledgling, we pay farmers more than two times what the bird would be sold for on the black market. In order to combat the severe deforestation, we began to design artificial nest boxes which provide the yellow-naped Amazon parrots as well as other species a habitat to nest. We have also planted tens of thousands of tree species that provide desirable food for the parrots.
As this program has been developed with help from Loro Parque Fundacion over the past ten years, we have helped the population of yellow-naped amazon parrots to stabilize in the initial area where we began the project and we have now expanded our work to focus on protecting other core areas. By using radio collars and radio telemetry, we have identified the most valuable core forest areas and we are now reaching out to landowners in an effort to develop this project further.