Maratakka River (WWF) - Animal Trade

Today we headed off further up the Maratakka River into the Moriche Savannah to focus on the issue of wildlife trade, specifically the dwindling Mackaw and parrot populations in this area. This three day trip is being funded by the World Wildlife Fund, so today's diary is being devoted to their concerns. Today's video (after the bit where we crash dramatically into a tree) introduces Roberto Plomp and hands the stage over to him. He makes an appeal to the parrot catchers of Suriname in their own language telling them that the supply of parrots in this country is not endless, and that sooner or later people are going to have to turn to other ways of making money.

The parrots are caught by young men agile enough to climb Podosiri Palm trees. When at the top they create a fake nest out of palm leaves. They take an already captive Parrot up to the top and it calls to other birds in the area. When they land in the fake nest, the catchers slip a noose around the necks of the unsuspecting birds. They pluck out the main flying feathers and drop them down to their accomplices waiting below, and resume the wait for the next bird. These birds are sold to exporters for very little money. The exporters make all the money when they re-sell the birds overseas.

Today we were lucky enough see a group of Blue and Yellow Mackaws, just as Roberto had told us, chatting to eachother in the tree tops. These birds have been put on CITIES' appendix 1 list. This means that they are an endangered species. When we intervewed Mr Baal head of the Surinmese Nature Division he told us that while this country is signed up to CITIES, the Blue and Yellow Mackaws are on the Apendix 2 list here due to their high numbers. Over twenty licences have been issued to wildlife exporting companies who are allowed to trade in these birds. The numbers are meant to be controlled, but, as Roberto points out, there is always way round such restrictions. The fact is that here, where there used to be flocks of hundreds in the air, it is now hard to catch sight of a handfull in day.

Roberto employs Michael, a young Carib parrot catcher, and is trying to pursuade him to drop this profession in favour of eco-tourism working within Roberto's company which is called Sur-vive-it. It is undisputable that we, as outsiders, should not expect the people who live in this area to spurn what few opportunities there are to make a few bucks. Better, as Roberto points out, to enourage alternative methods of generating an income. The reality of the situation is clearly exhibited by a small village called Cupido that we passed yesterday. Situated on the bank of the Maratakka river the village now has half the population it had a few years ago. The rest of the Carib indians who lived there have moved to Wageningen or Nieu Nickerie in seach of a life more connected to the outside world - the cash economy and the comforts that the rest of the world takes for granted.

On a personal note- if anyone out there is interested in coming to this country, I just want to say that the Moriche Savannah is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen...

Because we appreciate that some people may not be able to see the video, below is a short statement in Dutch written by Roberto to his fellow countrymen.

Mauritius Savanna is een broedplaats voor papagaaien en ara's. Het gebied ligt ongeveer 150 km stroomopwaarts van de Marataka rivier. Persoonlijk kom ik vanaf 1995 regelmatig in het gebied in alle seizoenen. Al die jaren zien we honderden papegaaien en ara's overvliegen. De laatste twee jaren hebben we echter een sterke terugname gezien van de aantallen. Vaak is de reactie die je te horen krijgt: "Den fowru de, den de moro fara in a busi. y'o si tra jari den o kon baka.". De harde realiteit is echter dat we ieder jaar steeds minder papegaaien zien. Vandaag zijn we er en we hebben over de gehele dag ongeveer 50 papegaaien gezien. - Roberto Plomp.



Definately a Parrot

Talking it Over

The Moriche Savannah

LINKS - Sur-vive-it
LINKS - Common Birds of Suriname
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