Amazona imperialis Photo Credit Joel Sartore
Amazona imperialis Photo Credit Joel Sartore
Dominica, the Nature Island of the Eastern Caribbean
Since 1997, RSCF’s support for wildlife conservation on Dominica is unrivaled and unconditional, totaling more than US$1.4 million over the past 25 years. The wildlife conservation-and-research partnership between Dominica’s Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division and RSCF is ongoing—recognized worldwide as one of the most progressive and successful parrot conservation endeavors ever.
RSCF supporters, officers and staff are tireless advocates for Dominica’s wildlife protection and conservation efforts.
Over the past half-century, Dominica's endemic Amazon parrots, the Sisserou and Jaco (Amazona imperialis and A. arausiaca, respectively), have proven to be effective conservation flagships for Dominica's diverse oceanic rainforest ecosystem. Continuous parrot-conservation and public-education efforts focusing on the Sisserou, Dominica's national bird and emblem, have achieved a broad base of public support and awareness, along with significant protection of Sisserou habitat, including the oldest forest stands on the island. Both parrot species' secretive natures and Dominica's difficult terrain often have impeded quantitative research into the parrots' ecologies, even as a comprehensive parrot-conservation program has evolved and yielded tangible results. Current field-research activities aim to quantify the parrots' distribution and abundance using GPS/GIS survey methods, which contrast with conventional ornithological abundance estimates. Research teams also use new camera technology to monitor and document reproduction and parental care, and are quantifying the botanical inventories of critical parrot nesting and foraging habitats. The Dominica parrot-conservation program has stimulated novel research and enhanced protected-area policies island-wide, ensuring a future for the Nature Island's vast montane forests and its winged ambassadors.
RSCF's investment in Dominica is ongoing. We will continue to supply on the ground support and funding for a wide variety of environmental and socio-economic recovery efforts including in situ and ex situ technical training, protected land acquisition, equipment, facility expansion and more.
Since catastrophic Hurricane Maria in 2017 and influence from outside parrot-collecting groups, the Dominica parrot-conservation program, overseen by Dominica’s Forestry Division, has diminished. RSCF and other credentialed conservation NGOs coordinated with Dominica’s new Minister of the Environment to implement new recovery measures for Dominica’s endemic national birds. The Minister’s Commitment Letter reaffirms Dominica’s commitment to parrot conservation and reinstating collaborative research and recovery measures with outside NGOs, particularly RSCF. Negotiations with Dominica’s Forestry Division and Ministry of the Environment are continuing, complemented by a coalition of international NGOs encouraging anti-trade and anti-trafficking measures to protect Caribbean islands’ endemic wildlife.
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Milestone Conservation Anniversary
January 21, 2020 we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Morne Diablotin National Park (MDNP) on Dominica—a conservation milestone for the eastern Caribbean and the world’s first new national park of the millennium. MDNP’s formation was possible through a strong partnership between the Government of Dominica and the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation (RSCF), with over $1M US in generated international funding and island-wide support. MDNP is a living embodiment of Dominica’s commitment to natural resource protection and a unified vision to save her national bird, the Imperial Amazon Parrot, or Sisserou. Without MDNP and decades of tangible, progressive, in situ conservation action by Dominica’s Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division, local people and partners like RSCF, the Sisserou would never have recovered from devastating Hurricane David in 1979 nor survived the most powerful hurricane to strike Dominica in recorded history, Hurricane Maria, in September 2017. The Sisserou’s comeback is again underway, and we are inspired by new sightings across MDNP, the Northern and Central Forest Reserves, Morne Trois Pitons National Park, and adjacent forests. Ongoing parrot surveys by Forestry’s expert parrot team, funded by RSCF, continue to quantify the distribution and abundance of both endemic Dominican parrots post-Maria. Please join us in celebrating the Park and wildlife’s incredible resilience on Dominica, the Nature Island of the Caribbean.