Campaign for palms and parrots
With the slogan ¡Si vuelan las Palmas, palman los loros! ("If the palms fly away, the parrots will too!"), a national campaign was launched in Ecuador on 30 March for the conservation of the Wax Palm, the Yellow-eared Parrot and the Golden-plumed Parakeet. The campaign is being organised by Aves&Conservación (BirdLife in Ecuador) and the Jocotoco Foundation, and has received official support from the Ecuador Ministry of Environment.
The Yellow-eared Parrot Ognorhynchus icterotis was once a common parrot in the northern Andes provinces of Ecuador, where Aves&Conservación is focusing its conservation efforts; while the Golden-plumed Parakeet Leptosittaca branickii was formerly common across the whole country but is now confined to the southern Andes provinces, where the Jocotoco Foundation is leading the work.
¡Si vuelan las Palmas, palman los loros!
("If the palms fly away, the parrots will too!")
The main threat for these two parrot species is the disappearance of the wax palm which is being exploited in an unsustainable fashion each year for the celebration of Palm Sunday. Thousands of wax palms are "harvested" every year to fulfill the demand for palms at this Easter Catholic celebration (the great majority of Ecuadorians are Catholics and very attached to such traditions). The extraction of the central leaves of the palm prevents its development and often causes the death of the specimen. Wax palms need around 25–30 years to reach their reproductive stage and more than 75–100 years to die off naturally and become suitable places in which the parrots can rest and build nests.
Aves&Conservación has established links with the Catholic Church in Ecuador and is lobbying to receive its official endorsement to promote the use of alternatives, such us corn leaves and eucalyptus, instead of wax palm.
Materials produced by Aves&Conservación and the Botanical Gardens of Quito (with the support of several other organisations), are being distributed before Easter at the Botanical Garden as well as outside Churches in the three main cities of the northern Andes Provinces (Imbabura, Pichincha and Tungurahua).