Survivors of illegal wildlife trafficking spread their wings in Guatemalan nature preserve

Thanks to the joint work of animal welfare organizations, 41 parrots return to their natural habitat

Humane Society International / Latin America


PETEN, Guatemala—A group of 41 parrots of different species (Amazona autumnalis and Amazona alfibrons), iconic in the Latin American region, were released in the Mayan Biosphere Reserve after they were rescued and confiscated from illegal wildlife trafficking.

The release of these birds into their natural habitat was the result of the joint work of animal welfare nonprofit organizations, Asociacion Rescate y Conservacion de Vida Silvestre and Humane Society International/Latin America, who have worked together since 2007 to protect wildlife in Guatemala.

Most of the parrots were seized in 2021 by the authorities while they were being held captive in wooden boxes in a hotel in Flores, Peten. The rest of the group was brought to ARCAS after a series of rescues throughout the rest of 2021 and, after their quarantine period, they all joined the initial group and have progressed together in their rehabilitation process.

Andrea Borel, executive director of HSI/Latin America, explained that negative interactions between people and wildlife, as well as illegal trafficking of wild birds such as parrots, are becoming more common in the region.

“The capture of wild animals for the national and international pet trade is a real problem in Guatemala. These animals are often kept in cramped, inadequate conditions and denied the ability to exhibit their natural behaviors, which can further cause them physical and psychological distress,” Borel said.

Borel continued: “By supporting and working with our local partner, ARCAS, this rescue, rehabilitation and release program is giving these birds back their freedom as well as increasing their wild populations to ensure future breeding in their natural forest habitat where they belong. We also work together on raising awareness and urging citizens not to buy products from wildlife and to report any suspicious activity to the authorities.”

Fernando Martinez, ARCAS director, said, “In our Rescue Center, the animals’ physical, medical and ethological rehabilitation is carried out under strict standards and in compliance with protocols for the different species that are brought in, as a result of illegal trafficking or negative interactions with human beings, to later be released into the Mayan Biosphere Reserve.”

Martinez continued: “Our mission is to protect wildlife and, with these parrots’ release, we contribute to maintaining genetic diversity and thus ensure the survival of the species. These birds will be monitored for 15 days, through direct observation methods on previously designed platforms and trails.”

ARCAS Wildlife Rescue Center and HSI staff facilitated the parrots’ release in the Mayan Biosphere Reserve. under the supervision of the governmental National Council of Protected Areas, or CONAP.

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