Who Can You Trust?

The last Sunday of each month, I like to blog about the state of avian conservation on Planet Earth. I’ve always respected the World Parrot Trust because of all the species they protect and defend. However, I stumbled upon a respected Aviculturist from Florida who vehemently rejects WPT as an honorable organization.

Tony Silva urges all parrot lovers to use a cover photo on Facebook that says Stop the World Parrot Trust. He explains that the president and the secretary of the organization pull in pretty generous salaries. The funds come from donations given by people who expect the money to have an actual impact on conservation, in habitat preservation and legislation to make harming parrots illegal. Not to buy pencils and printer paper or allow a human to have a huge home. (I’m just making an assumption here. No idea what kind of home the president of WPT has.)

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Further, Mr. Silva explains that he himself has given hundreds of volunteer hours each month at no charge and still can maintain his standard of living. No diverted dollars required. I strongly urge you to read his statement here on Facebook and see which argument has the most impact on you. For me, the lack of common sense in the CITES regulations preventing the captive breeding in South Africa of African Grey Parrots.

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One response to Mr. Silva’s allegations suggests that the salaries are in line with the education of the people in the various positions and asked for a response from WPT to the charges leveled. I agree WPT needs to find a way to reassure Aviculturists that they are a force for good in the world of parrots. On a different thread regarding news and data being used to wring donations from the public, a WPT representative, so claimed, refuted that they had purposely posted old information with the design of getting more funds. Cristiana Senni claims that “Over the past 28 years, thousands of people have supported the WPT because they like what we do, who we are, and what we’re working to accomplish on behalf of parrots around the world. If anyone doesn’t like our approach, they should feel free to donate to other organizations or go ahead and get working on helping captive and wild parrots themselves. In the end, if they’re doing such work and they’re doing it well, WPT might well find itself supporting them too!”

Face it, if you see a photo online of cute blue parrot chicks and hear a claim that your donations will keep these sweet babies alive in the wild, you might send in some money. Yet CITES, the big administration of import laws and protection of all wildlife, is doing more harm than good. This article by Ron Thomson explains the harm carried out under the flag of conservation and protection. It’s not a black and white issue, there are lots of gray areas around culture, economics, traditions, and laws.

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The question really is, Who Can You Trust? Mr. Silva and others recommend the following:

The Loro Parque Foundation: This is the first organization mentioned in response as a better place to donate money. I have reservations myself about the park as it is primarily a tourist attraction and keeps marine mammals as well as the parrots they are known for. However, as Wikipedia reports, the foundation was “set up to highlight the need for conservation of nature and the environment. The foundation has carried out 82 conservation projects in 28 countries throughout the world, of which 31 keep being active with approximately 150 persons working daily for the conservation of nature. Since its creation, they have spent more than $10,000,000 in such projects.” So they are straddling the line but we will give them a pass for now.

Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots: This organization in Germany is respected in the world of Conservation for their work and their state of the art facility. They state their main competency lies in the breeding and nursing of endangered parrots. If you are near Berlin, you may want to make an appointment to take a tour. That may help you decide on a donation.

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American Federation of Aviculture: I’ve long been aware of this group as my local bird club has been affiliated with it. They are magnificent in keeping abreast of legislation that will impact conservation. Their Watchbird magazine is a great compilation of the critical votes taking place in the United States and in other countries. They have sound reasons for supporting or opposing changes to the Endangered Species Act and other similar items.

PASA (Parrot Breeders of South Africa): An active and wide-spread group that could have a positive impact on African Grey Parrots if CITES understood and accepted the good that they do. From their South Africa’s Efforts page, “South Africa’s natural wealth is among one of the most revered in the world and one that is of immeasurable importance to the country and our people. Driven by the need to conserve the nation’s biodiversity through the promotion of conservation and sustainable use, South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs aims to radically transform its approach to environmental protection while aligning these efforts with socio-economic development.”

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I hope this has been interesting enough to give you thought and help you decide where to make donations. Digging beneath the publicity is always a good idea. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back next Sunday.

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