For a small country,
the Cayman Islands house a number of spectacular species on land, air and sea.
They are the living
treasures of our natural environment.
Many of us are
fortunate enough to have frequent contact with these rare species; whether it
is the Green Sea Turtle at the Turtle Farm or on a dive; or the Blue Iguana in
the bush of East End and North Side; or the Southern Stingrays that populate
the Sandbar of the North Sound.
It’s easy to forget –
after living here for a while – the rare and curious natures of these
creatures. Let’s face it; many of us take them for granted.
The Cayman Parrot is
another such national treasure, although it often gets significantly less
recognition or appreciation than other species.
For instance, there
is general outrage when news of a 350-pound Green Sea Turtle turns up on a
beach, a victim of careless and foolish poaching. But no one ever seems to
raise the same issues when a farmer shoots a Cayman Parrot that’s been raiding
The effect is
essentially the same, in our view. Cayman Parrots are given the same
protections under the Animals Law – against poaching and capture – that Blue or
Rock Iguanas are given.
But the majority of
these offences go undetected.
If the country wishes
to keep these lively and colourful birds from extinction, action must be taken
to prevent their capture for sale and non-lethal methods must be found for
keeping them away from crops.
Rescue has developed one such method by recording parrot distress sounds and
making those recordings available to local farmers. Parrots hearing the
distress sound will typically fly away, thinking there is some real danger and
will leave the crops alone.
captured parrots can be done, but it takes time and effort. Once a parrot
becomes “domesticated” they must re-learn how to exist in the wild. This
process isn’t always successful.
For those who haven’t
ever seen a Cayman Parrot or who may think we are making much of the issue, we
invite you to go out to Otto Watler’s farm in Savannah. Cayman Wildlife Rescue
is usually looking for volunteers to help care for the birds and clean out the
You can take in the beauty
and intelligence of these creatures for yourself. It just might change your
mind about the importance of Cayman’s national bird.