As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday 1 February 2019

South America's industrial scale bird trade revealed in shocking new report

South Africa was the world’s leading exporter of South American parrots between 2000 and 2013 after Amazon countries “abandoned the possibility of legally and competitively producing and exporting their wildlife,” finds a new study into bird trade in Latin America.
Bird’s-eye view: Lessons from 50 years of bird trade regulation & conservation in Amazon countries, provides a comprehensive overview of bird trade in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Suriname, including regulations and the bird trade’s impact as a conservation tool on species and habitats.
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.
After decades of intensive exploitation and massive declines in many bird populations, in 1967, Brazil became the first country in South America legally to ban the commercial sale of wild animals, replacing demand through captive breeding programmes as an economic alternative with low conservation impacts on wild populations. With Brazil’s national wildlife trade ban installed, illegal wildlife trade was simultaneously initiated in South America.
In subsequent decades, hundreds of thousands of birds were captured to supply international trade, many of them laundered through those countries where exports were still legal (i.e. Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay). In the 1980s, up to 10,000 Hyacinth Macaws were captured, many ending up in captive breeding facilities where production costs were lower than in Brazil. Wild populations were seriously depleted, although there have been important recoveries in Brazil thanks to sustained conservation efforts. While range countries struggle to prevent the extinction of this emblematic species, the Philippines has become the world’s main legal exporter of Hyacinth Macaws.

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