Over two weeks ago, a Scarlet Macaw named ‘Big Red’ was taken from the Belize Bird Rescue and transferred to its new home on Harvest Caye. About a year ago, the macaw was rescued by the Belize Bird Rescue and had rehabilitated for subsequent release. But, personnel from the Forest Department and Harvest Caye showed up at the Bird Rescue base and confiscated Big Red. It was taken to the caye to be held in captivity as an attraction for tourists. Belize Bird Rescue and the animal conservation community have condemned the move. On Thursday, when we caught up with Executive Director of the Belize Audubon Society, Amanda Burgos Acosta told News Five that there is a national bird working group that has held a meeting to discuss the recommended actions.
Amanda Burgos, Executive Director, Belize Audubon Society
“There is a national bird working group that also had a meeting and they have had discussions on what are the recommended actions. I believe that the Forest Department is the lead on that as well and so they have had the recommendations of the group. I think Ms. Nikki [Buxton] is rightly upset. I think the idea of bird rescue is for rehabilitation so that they can be released in the wild. As you know, our Scarlet Macaws are wild animals and they need to be released in that nature. If they are then reassessed as un-releasable for some other physiological reason then we discuss the way forward on where to place the animal and what is the best situation for the animal.”
“So, with this particular bird, does the Audubon condemn what has happened with this bird?”
“As far as we’ve the information we’ve gotten, yes. Because it seems like the bird was re-leasable, but like I said, the vet and the whole process on how that was determined is being reviewed at this moment. I think the protocol that is followed right now is that the chicks are reared and those that are at high risk, they are reared and the whole premise of doing that is so that they can be released. Having them in a cage is not necessarily the best ideal situation or them.”
“And would it be your opinion as well that having the bird in a cage on an island might be the worst possible situation for that bird?”
“I think the conversation is – there are two conversations. One – what is the process? Right now that we are rearing them to be re-released. There are captive birds already on that island. I think they have all their permits. I think the Forest Department has to reiterate what that is and what is the process. But, yet, captivity is not the ideal and once those birds are in captivity, they are handled a lot. The idea is taking the pictures with birds behind you and so a lot of traffic and it is not conducive.”