New Reserve for Fuertes’s Parrots: a Gold Mine for Conservation
For 91 years, the Fuertes’s Parrot (also known as the Indigo-winged Parrot) had vanished, and was considered by many to be extinct. Then, in 2002, researchers from Rainforest Trust partner ProAves Colombia made an astounding discovery: a colony of 60 of these delicate birds surviving in a fragment of cloud forest in Colombia’s Central Andes.
After nine years of conservation efforts, another discovery in the region poses a grave threat to this Critically Endangered bird.
The South African mining giant, AngloGold Ashanti, recently announced that it had found one of the world’s “top ten gold deposits”–a 13-million ounce vein of gold in Colombia’s Central Andes. This discovery is only 12 miles from one of the last two colonies of Fuertes’s Parrots on Earth.
Rainforest Trust with our partners Fundación ProAves, Fundación Loro Parque, and American Bird Conservancy herald a critical success for this unique and fragile habitat and its threatened biodiversity.
In May 2010, after months of negotiations, we helped acquire and protect the 368-acre (149-hectare) fragment of cloud forest nearest to the gold discovery–an area that contains a vital population of the remarkable Fuertes’s Parrot (see map of site).
The main population of this parrot (approximately 30-40 pairs) was protected by Rainforest Trust and ProAves within the 16,000-acre Parrot Corridor established in 2009. But the threat posed by mining spurred our support to protect this additional group of 5-10 breeding pairs.
Since its rediscovery, and thanks to strenuous conservation efforts, the total population of Fuertes’s Parrots has grown from 60 individuals to an estimated 150-200 birds. An extremely specialized species, the Fuertes’s Parrot feeds on mistletoe and other fruits. It cannot survive in captivity.
“We are delighted that within one year, we have helped protected the entire global population of this spectacular multi-colored parrot and ensured a safe future for its survival,” noted Dr Paul Salaman, Conservation Director of Rainforest Trust. “And we are very grateful to Robert Giles and American Bird Conservancy for matching our donations and making this success a reality.”
“We are also elated that the new reserve will be called the Giles-Fuertes Nature Reserve.”
The new Giles-Fuertes Nature Reserve is located two hours from the provincial capital of Tolima, Ibaque, and includes over 50 acres of pastureland that will be reforested by native trees while adjacent pasturelands will be fenced so that cattle cannot enter the forests and eat tree seedlings. Artificial nest-boxes will be installed to providing nesting sites for the Fuertes’s Parrot as many mature trees with natural cavities have been selectively logged for timber and firewood.
The property includes a traditional cabin for a reserve guard to be stationed to protect the reserve and allow researchers and visitors to be stationed. The reserve will be immediately registered for the national network of protected areas to ensure mining is prohibited. Other rare and endemic species found here include the endangered Mountain Wooly Tapir and the Spectacled Bear.
Rainforest Trust is grateful to all our donors who contributed to establish the Giles-Fuertes Nature Reserve.
We could not have done this without your help.