Blu, the macaw featured in the 2011 movie "Rio," isn't just a cartoon character. Artists modeled the parrot after the stunning Spix's macaw that's native to northeastern Brazil. Millions of people saw the movie and rooted for Blu as he fought to survive the various villains and dangers that threatened him. But while Blu might have survived to live another day, the real Spix's macaws have gone extinct in the 7 years since the movie debuted — extinct at least, in the wild.
Around 159 of the birds are held in captivity, and 90% of them, are held by one man and his association — and that's where the trouble begins.
Martin Guth is the head of the German-based Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots (ACTP), an organization whose mission, he claims is to breed safety populations of endangered species for future reintroduction in the wild. Yet, a recent exposé in the Guardian has revealed that apart from the fact that ACTP's theory of conservation is at odds with most scientists, Mr. Guth and his associates are more interested in breeding the birds to sell to private collectors who pay in the hundreds of thousands for the rarest of birds. Additionally, Guth has a criminal record a mile long including kidnapping and extortion, another reason to be suspicious of his motives.
Now conservationists and others are raising the alarm and telling governments around the world to stop allowing the export of their rarest birds to the dubious organization.
Australia, for example, seems to have been duped by Guth and his associates into sending more than 232 parrots over the span of 3 years. The country has some of the strictest wildlife laws on the planet making sure that no native species are exported for commercial reasons. Yet on more than one occasion, according to the Guardian, birds acquired with the permission of the Australian government have been offered for sale online by ACTP — a clear violation of the export permits given to the organization.
If ACTP is selling their birds then they are not out to help restock the dwindling populations of some of the world's most endangered birds, rather they are out for profit. The birds they import and then breed aren't destined for the jungles of the Amazon, Australian outback or islands of the Caribbean, but rather the aviaries of some of the world's richest — people willing to spend big bucks to add a rare bird to their collection.
Additionally, even if they were breeding for reintroduction, bird experts say the bird species stand a better chance at survival in their natural habitat, not in captivity.
No one is questioning the safety or treatment of ACTP's birds however their motives go against their stated mission and governments should not trust a for-profit organization with the survival of birds like the Spix's parrot — a species that's hanging by a thread.
Please sign the petition and demand that Germany's agency for nature conservation, the Bundesamt für Naturschutz, investigate Guth and the ACTP to find out if they are in breach of their mission and protect the rare birds currently in their care.
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