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Parrots not being traded for vehicles – Minister Caesar

Parrots not being traded for vehicles – Minister Caesar

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The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations is providing assistance to the Ministry of Agriculture with the strengthening of the programme for the conservation of the Amazona Guildingii.

Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar told SEARCHLIGHT {{more}}on Wednesday that since the Government forged a partnership with the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots (ACTP) in September 2011, there have been accusations from some, that the national bird is being traded for vehicles.

“We are now in the process of strengthening the relationship with the ACTP, and we have asked the FAO to assist us in this regard, by visiting the ACTP in Berlin, and they are going to come to SVG after to see what we have, both in the wild and at the Botanic Gardens, to advise us technically, as to how we can strengthen the programme for the conservation of the bird.

“It is very important that I involve FAO so that the issue of accountability between the two partners,” Caesar said.

The minister said the ACTP has contributed significantly to the academic advancement of persons in the forestry department and more than four persons have received scholarships in areas of conservation, forestry and protection.

Caesar, however, said when the ACTP donated banana plants to help to protect the habitat of the parrot, that move was viewed with suspicion, and he was accused of using the ACTP for political purposes.

“They have assisted us in protecting the habitat of the parrots by attacking the issue at the source, by giving us some 50,000 banana plants so that we can encourage persons to plant bananas, so that they do not have to go up in the forest and destroy the forest.

“It is a part of a general programme to protect the habitat of the parrots; so that you farm and you don’t have to encroach on the habitat,” the minister said.

“Also they are assisting with vehicles, and for some reason, whilst you are working to enhance the relationship, some persons are of the view that it is a trade-off.”

Concern has also been expressed that by exporting the parrots they are being exposed to diseases that are not found locally, and by returning such birds to St Vincent and the grenadines, they become an immediate threat to the captive and wild population.

Caesar said in this country, there is a history of parrots leaving the country and “disappearing into thin air.”

“This is not that case. Under a previous administration, parrots left this country and are not accounted for. This is a case where it is open and transparent, where the media is involved, and now the FAO is involved,” he said.

The minister said on Wednesday Claus Eckelmann from the FAO office in Barbados visited the ACTP facility in Berlin, Germany, and in the first week in September, three persons from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will visit Berlin.

In October 2013, four journalists from SVG visited the ACTP facility.

Caesar said there was an issue of the inbreeding of the parrots at the Botanic Gardens with which the ACTP is assisting.

In October 2011, 15 parrots from SVG were transferred to Germany as part of the conservation project and in November 2012, 14 more were transferred from the USA, bringing the total number of parrots at the ACTP facility in Germany to 29.

The ACTP is pairing the birds from SVG with those from the United States, which they say should not only increase the bird population, but create “a healthy, genetically diverse reserve population.”

“This is not a trade-off. It is a perfectly symbiotic relationship,” the minister asserted.

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