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Aruba’s National Park Revives Once-Extinct Parrot Species

Aruba’s National Park Revives Once-Extinct Parrot Species

In Arikok National Park on Aruba, a parrot species locally extinct, known as the Lora (a Yellow-shouldered Amazon), has recently been reintroduced to the wild.

The park staff provided them with a nutritious breakfast of fruits, vegetables, and legumes, preparing them for another day of foraging for wild food in the park and learning to navigate the skies while avoiding Peregrine falcons.

The return of these Yellow-shouldered amazons to the island after an absence of nearly 77 years was spurred by a momentous event in 2022 when a smuggling boat, intercepted by the coast guard, was found to contain 33 Loras along with other poached wildlife.

Under the direction of Natasha Silva, the chief conservation officer, and with the support of the Aruba National Park Foundation, a concerted effort was launched to rehabilitate these distressed birds. Despite the challenges of malnutrition and dehydration, the team’s dedication paid off, and the Loras began their journey back to health.

Aruba is renowned for its pristine beaches and rugged terrain, but it’s also a place where the Lora faced significant threats. Poaching for the pet trade, agricultural conflicts, and habitat loss had driven the species to local extinction by 1947. However, through collaborative efforts and legal protections, there was hope for their revival.

The process of reintroduction involved meticulous planning and cooperation with international experts. Flight aviaries were constructed, and the parrots were gradually acclimatized to their natural surroundings. Finally, in January, after a year and a half of intensive care, the first cohort of Loras was released into the wild.

Since then, the flock has thrived, adapting to their environment and reclaiming their place in Aruba’s ecosystem. While still receiving supplementary food and monitoring from park staff, they have begun to forage independently and exhibit behaviors characteristic of their species.

Despite the progress, challenges remain. The Loras must contend with natural predators and invasive species, and efforts to change perceptions about keeping parrots as pets are ongoing. However, with continued support and community engagement, there is optimism for the establishment of a self-sustaining population of wild Loras by 2043.

The revival of the once-extinct parrot species in Aruba’s national park stands as a testament to the effectiveness of collaborative conservation efforts and the resilience of nature.

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