In the 1970s, St. Lucia Parrots, which live in the Caribbean, needed help. People were clearing their forest habitat for agriculture, catching and keeping the birds as pets, and killing them for food – until there were only about 150 left. But then the island’s forestry department, and an advisor named Paul Butler, began saving the parrots. The key, says Butler, was to build local pride in a species that’s found nowhere else on earth. Their efforts paid off: Today, there are some 1,500 St. Lucia Parrots!
Pride Protects St. Lucia Parrots
Featuring Paul Butler of Rare
Interview and story by Chris Peterson
This is BirdNote!
[Musical selection from “Bongo Man”]
In the 1970s, in the Caribbean, St. Lucia Parrots needed help. People were clearing their forest habitat for agriculture, catching and keeping the birds as pets, killing them for food – until there were only about 150 left.
[Calls of St. Lucia Parrots]
But then the island’s forestry department, and an advisor named Paul Butler, began saving the parrots. The penalty for killing them was raised; tourists were invited on rainforest walks to see the birds; and protected areas were set aside.
The key, though, says Butler, was to build local pride in a species that’s found nowhere else on earth.
“We don’t always make decisions rationally. Often our emotions drive our decision-making. The combination of appealing to the rational self as well as the emotive self is very, very powerful. …We worked with musicians recording songs…religious leaders working with sermons…billboards, bumper stickers, posters, parades…to create this feeling of pride.”
Today Paul Butler is the Global Vice President for Rare – an international organization working with local partners so that both people and nature thrive.
“Conservation is not just about fluffy animals and about protecting habitat. It’s also about protecting people’s livelihoods. When you appeal to people on both their rational and emotional side, we find that conservation can gain traction and can be successful...”
There are now some 1,500 St. Lucia Parrots. For that, here’s what Paul Butler says about the government, the forest department and the people of St. Lucia:
“They’re my heroes!”
To learn more, begin at birdnote.org[Go out with music from St. Lucia]
Musical selection from "Bongo Man" played by Wrangler. The CD is called Calypso Awakening and the release is from 2000 on Smithsonian Folkways recordings.
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Calls of St. Lucia Parrots  recorded by L. Macaulay.
Ambient drawn from Gordon Hempton’s Essentials # 38, tropical forest -- QuietPlanet.com.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2013 Tune In to Nature.org July 2013 Narrator: Mary McCannMV Track 95 9:44 –19:10
ID# ecotourism-03-2013-07-25ecotourism-03 https://rare.org/