Project Eakihei: parrots in peril

Elliott P Toyne

After the success of Parrots in Peril 1990 and 1992 expeditions, a follow-up expedition consisting of four British and two Ecuadorian biologists continued studying the avifauna of Podocarpus National Park and the temperate forests of the Loja Province, southern Ecuador. Further information was gathered on the biology and current status of threatened parrot species, and data collected demonstrated the importance of the Park for the birds, butterfly and amphibians. The expedition also visited the unexplored south-east corner of the park to evaluate its conservation status. Although there was no immediate threat, a lack of primates recorded suggested the area has been over-hunted by the Shuar Indian population.

Project update: 19/2/98. The BP Conservation Programme sponsored the third of a series of ‘Parrots in Peril’ expeditions to Podocarpus National Park (PNP) and surrounding areas in southern Ecuador between 1990 and 1994. The Eakehei follow-up project won the Follow-up Award in 1998 to conduct further study. In the 1994 project, the biologists from Imperial College and volunteers from Ecuadorian NGOs CECIA and Fundación Arcoiris set out to collect data on three threatened parrot species, to assess the effectiveness of PNP as a protected area and determine its biological importance for taxa such as butterflies and amphibians. The most important contribution was an initial E.I.A of gold mining within PNP. The results of this study were placed in a human health context and used successfully by the Ecuadorian government in a public health campaign around Zamora town concerning the dangers of mercury. New species of butterflies were discovered and the first herpetological list of PNP was compiled (P. Toyne in litt. 1998, Fundación Arcoiris in litt.1998, T.A. Hooley verbally 1999).

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