Why are yellow-naped parrots endangered?
The number one threat to the survival of the yellow-naped amazon is poaching for the illegal trade in wild parrots, but it is also under pressure from habitat destruction and, increasingly, from climate change.
The yellow-naped amazon is a protected species, listed under Appendix I of CITES, which permits trade only in exceptional circumstances. It is illegal to take yellow-naped amazons – eggs, nestlings or adult birds – from the wild, but in many parts of their range law enforcement is weak.
The parrot’s preference for nest holes in mature trees and its tendency to return to the same site year after year mean that breeding sites are easy for would-be poachers to pinpoint and stake out. Rather than targeting the adults, they go for the more vulnerable eggs and chicks – which are then sold into the domestic and international pet trade.
The level of predation by pet hunters is completely unsustainable. Tragically, at least 50% of nestlings taken from the wild die in transit. In some locations, up to 100% of nests have been poached, with disastrous results for the local population.
Local demand is at least partly responsible for the decline of the yellow-naped amazon. For example, a staggering 25% of households in Ometepe keep parrots as pets – but national and regional demand are also to blame. There are also disturbing reports of an increase in transcontinental trade in the yellow-naped amazon, which could spell disaster for the species. Trafficking methods are also becoming more sophisticated, with portable incubators used to smuggle the parrots abroad before they have hatched. Clutches of eggs are harder to detect and easier to transport, as they don’t make noise or require feeding in transit.
Habitat loss as a result of forest clearance for agricultural expansion is exacerbating the crisis for the plummeting yellow-naped amazon population.
Temperature extremes and extended periods of drought caused by climate change are also likely to affect this parrot’s habitat and food supply.
Furthermore, there are concerns that parasites could be affecting the parrots’ health, damaging their chances of survival even further.