St. Lucia Amazon
St. Lucia Amazon numbers down to a few hundred
St. Lucia Amazon (Amazona versicolor) populations have been affected by the loss of crucial breeding areas over the island of St. Lucia.
Project and progress: Paul Butler of RARE Conservation asked the WPT to provide a parrot education bus for the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. The Trust provided the Jaquot Express – a bus retrofitted with educational toys, videos and displays for kids to enjoy and learn from. The bus was then shipped out on a banana boat and handed over to staff of the island's forestry department. This bus was to travel all over the island, visiting schools and public venues, telling the story of the St. Lucia parrot and what had to be done to save it from extinction.
Outcomes: The St. Lucia Amazon is protected by law. The bird has become a national symbol thanks to education and awareness among the local people. A moratorium on hunting in forest reserves was implemented (J. D. Gilardi in litt. 1999). Since 1975 a captive-breeding programme has been in place; by 1995 a total of 19 young birds had fledged (Copsey 1995). More research and continued maintenance of the ban on hunting in protected forest is needed.
World population: 350-500
Where found: Located on St. Lucia, Lesser Antilles, West Indies.
History: The St. Lucia Amazon, or Amazona versicolor, is found in the central-southern mountains of St Lucia. The species has undergone a rapid reduction in its range since 1950, when there was almost 300 square kilometers of available habitat. There have been drastic population losses, but these have partially been reversed by conservation action. Population counts in 1996 estimated the wild population at between 350-500 individuals (Juniper and Parr 1998), and noted some expansion in range (J. D. Gilardi in litt. 1999).
- Loss of suitable range habitat
- Rapid growth of human population and subsequent loss of forest
- Reduction in breeding trees from selective logging
- Severe weather
- Capture for wild bird trade
- Recent efforts to lift the moratorium on hunting within forest reserves, possibly threatening this species
Ecology: St. Lucia Amazons are found mostly above 300m (984 ft). They occur in moist mature forest, now restricted mainly to central and southern mountains; less commonly in tall secondary growth forest, and with occasionally a visit to cultivated areas. Their diet includes fruits, flowers, also bananas following hurricanes and loss of natural food source trees. Birds stay in forest canopy and are seen in flocks of up to 20.