TRAFFIC, one of the world’s leading authorities on wildlife trafficking has recently published a comprehensive report on bird trade in Amazon countries titled ‘Bird’s-eye view: Lessons from 50 years of bird trade regulation & conservation in Amazon countries.’
The report, published in January 2019, focuses on 50 years of bird trade regulations and conservation in the South America countries of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Suriname. The report was supported by WWF US.
You can find the report here: https://www.traffic.org/site/assets/files/11517/birds-eye-view.pdf
The report begins by stating the need for this study saying, “In 2014, TRAFFIC’s South America office discussed with WWF the importance of assessing the status of trade in wild birds in Amazon countries in the lead up to the fiftieth “anniversary” of policy and legal changes that were urgently implemented to regulate the trade that seriously depleted many of the most sought-after species in demand by booming post-war economies.”
The report then goes on to discuss in graphic detail the historic, and destructive aspect of the trade of wild birds.
“The trade of birds and their products from the region has a long history: since the mid-19th Century, many tonnes of feathers and bird skins—mainly hummingbirds and tanagers, were exported to fashion markets in Europe and North America. This demand led to the killing of millions of birds over many decades. For example, in a brief period before World War I, one London merchant imported 400,000 hummingbirds and 360,000 other birds from Brazil, while in 1932, some 25,000 hummingbirds were hunted in Pará State and sent to Italy to adorn chocolate boxes. Hundreds of thousands of live birds were later exported as pets from across South America after the mid-1950s when commercial airline connections, mainly through Miami, became routinely available.” Adding, “Rural populations, indigenous or not, have always been reliant on wildlife as food, and in the last century, as a cash source.”
And though the historical number of birds exported to Europe and North America was staggering, the current numbers of birds recently exported is extraordinary by any measure. According to the report over 30,000–35,000 illegally-sourced or traded birds are confiscated each year in Brazil. And during the period of 2000-2013 over 250,000 parrots were exported from Amazonian countries.
In other words, the bird trade in South America is alive and well in today’s economy.
Unfortunately, many of the bird species being traded are considered threatened or endangered.
According to the report hundreds of bird species are classified as Threatened according to the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 2015 Red List. And of the five countries studied Brazil is listed as having 170 bird species threatened; Columbia has 126; Ecuador has 106; Guyana has 15; Peru has 121; and Suriname has nine bird species threatened. And between 2000-2013 over 37,000 CITES-listed birds were commercially exported by Peru and during the same period Guyana exported 145,000 birds belonging to 24 CITES Appendix II-listed species.
And according to the report, the future outlook for these birds is challenging at best.
The report concludes stating, “Deforestation, fragmentation and disconnection of habitats, wetland destruction and pollution, invasive species, as well as abrupt changes in weather patterns that lead to prolonged droughts, fires or flash floods, have already affected many areas of South America. It is perhaps surprising that more bird species have not gone extinct in the last 50 years (currently only two species classified as EX). However, the outlook is grim for many species and populations, particularly as deforestation continues unabated on a wide range of fronts. There appears to be little political will, and legal and technical tools are lacking to stop this crisis.”
As grim as this assessment may sound, the report does offers pages of in-depth analysis and possible solutions to solve the challenges created by the bird trade in South America.
And at 198 pages, it is a long read. But for anyone who cares about birds, or for anyone who just wants to understand how complicated it can be to try and protect a species, it is well worth the time and effort.
For more information:
Richard Thomas Global Communications Co-ordinator
+44 (0)1223 331 981, (m) +44 (0)7921 309176
Link to original TRAFFIC news report: https://www.traffic.org/publications/reports/birds-eye-view/