Friday, 23 January 2004

Argentina to exploit wild Parrots

A recent article in Nature magazine, highlighted an important conservation issue in Argentina. The Argentinean Government is proposing to export Amazon parrots to the USA , under licence from the Fish & Wildlife Service. Perhaps the most surprising part of the story is that Susan Lieberman, who is Head of WWF's Species Programme is supporting the Argentinean proposal.

As many critics have pointed out the Argentinean government does not have the resources to carry out adequate protection of its wildlife or its national parks, and so any attempt to exploit wildlife for commercial purposes needs to be treated with extreme caution. According to Nature, local Expert, Enrique Bucher from the University of Cordova on Argentina has pointed out "We don't have a scientific way to manage these things". The report also mentions that 30 organisations and 100 ecologists worldwide have lodged objections with the Fish & Wildlife Service.

Quite why WWF feels it necessary to stick its neck out and support a trade in wild caught birds is difficult to explain -- there are plenty of more serious issues that need their support. Nature explains Lieberman's stance by pointing out that as the former head of the US Fish & Wildlife Service, she was involved in the drafting of the legislation that could permit the importation into the US, back in 1992. In addition to the conservation and animal welfare issues involved, there are other problems, such as the introduction of potential pests and diseases -- so it is even more difficult to see why WWF wants to encourage the trade in wild caught birds. Apart from anything else it could well lose them public support.

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