Mexico signs law to ban capture and export of Mexican wild parrots

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Unprecedented level of protection for Mexico's 22 species of parrots and macaws

(10/14/2008) -

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa has signed into law a bill to ban the capture and export of Mexican wild parrots. The bill, introduced one year ago by the Environment Commission of the Deputy Chamber, was passed in the Mexican Senate on 22 April, 2008 with near unanimous support (66 votes in favor, 0 votes against, and 1 abstention).

The bill was originally drafted after a presentation of the 2007 report "The Illegal Parrot Trade in Mexico: A Comprehensive Assessment" by Defenders of Wildlife and Teyeliz, A.C. The report revealed for the first time the volume of the illegal trade of parrots within Mexico. An estimated 65,000 -78,500 wild parrots and macaws are captured illegally each year, with more than 75 percent of the birds dying before ever reaching a purchaser. Approximately 50,000 to 60,000 parrots die this way each year in Mexico alone.

“Current levels of trade in parrots are entirely unsustainable. This bill is a vital step to prevent the loss of parrot species,” said Roger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife. “The bill will also help to safeguard the future of ecotourism in Mexico. The United States alone has 85 million birdwatchers, many of whom are willing to travel to see unique birds like these native parrots.”

Mexico is home to 22 species of parrots and macaws, of which six are found nowhere else in the world. Approximately 90 percent of all parrots and macaws found in Mexico are in some category of risk. The latest Mexican classification (yet to be published) lists 11 species as endangered, five as threatened, four as requiring special protection, and two as unclassified.

“In 2007, only six species of parrots in Mexico were listed as endangered. This new classification almost doubles that number,” said Juan Carlos Cantú Guzmán, director of Mexican programs for Defenders of Wildlife. “It is readily apparent that unless we immediately halt the capture and trade in all parrots and macaws, we could lose these species entirely. This bill signifies a milestone though which we can finally address conservation and recovery of these unique birds.”

Although this bill marks an immense victory for parrot conservation, much work is yet to be done.

“Defenders of Wildlife and Teyeliz will inform people of the new capture ban and will seek their support to stop buying wild parrots. If wild parrots are to survive, people must stop buying them for pets, ” noted María Elena Sanchez Saldana of Teyeliz, A.C.

Defenders of Wildlife and Teyeliz, A.C. are already working on a bi-national education campaign with the U.S. and Mexico, and will continue to address the need to find adequate funding to solve the biological, economic and social challenges of the illegal parrot trade.

Learn more about Defenders' work in Mexico.

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Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org.

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Contact(s):

Juan Carlos Cantu Guzman, Defenders of Wildlife, 52-55-55-96-21-08
Peter Jenkins, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-0293
Maria Elena Sanchez Saldana, Teyeliz, A.C., 52-55-52-51-60-96

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Scarlet macaw, © Maria Elena Sanchez
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