|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
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
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