--by Linda P. Myers
As the mangos ripen, and because there is very little food in the remaining forests since Hurricane Ivan, wild parrots are converging on the farms – the only places they can find food. Farmers, seeing so many parrots, believe that there are still as many as before the storm, so they are shooting the parrots as they come in to feed on the mangos.
Those of us that care should be willing to help bear the financial burden of finding a way to save the wild Cayman Parrot, even if it means buying the mangos damaged by parrots. The farmers are just doing what they’ve always done, but now, there are too few parrots left to continue with this old–fashioned method of protecting mango crops.
These are the last wild parrots on Grand Cayman. By the end of the current mango season they will probably be gone – maybe forever. One farmer has bragged that he shoots over 100 parrots in a single mango season. Even before Ivan, there were only an estimated 1,200 wild parrots here.
Cayman Parrots are protected by law, but the law is not enforced against farmers. Tourists and residents can plan on never seeing another wild parrot in the sky. And, the parrots remaining in cages and kept as pets, will be needed for an expensive captive breeding program, or the Cayman Islands National Bird will be extinct.
If we all love seeing the wild parrots fly free, we should find a way to share the economic burden of preserving them. Can no one intervene? Where is the greater good for the country? Department of Tourism? Real Estate companies? Surely there is a vested interest here that would profit by finding a solution to this problem.
--Linda P. Myers