Putting Wildlife Back Into the Wild in Trinidad

Blue and gold macaws are released back into the wild in Trinidad. Photo: Nadra Nathai-Gyan

Wildlife caught in illegal trade situations suffer dreadfully. Unfortunately, it is often the case that even if the traders are caught and the animals are seized, the suffering does not stop.  In the International Fund for Animal Welfare assessments of the needs of front line staff fighting the illegal wildlife trade, one of the constant problems they face is what to do with live animals once seized – often there is nowhere to send these animals and the officers seizing the animals do not know how to properly handle them.

In Trinidad, one of the first places that IFAW conducted trainings in illegal wildlife trade for frontline staff, we are addressing this problem.

The author outside the macaw enclosure.

By a close cooperation between the Forest Guards, who make the seizures, and the Zoological Society of Trinidad and Tobago and their conservation partners The Manatee Trust, seized animals now face a better future. And with help from IFAW, there is now a secure place for animals to go for rehabilitation back to the wild.

Perhaps more importantly, when appropriate, these animals can now be released back into the wild through a carefully monitored rehabilitation program.

Blue and gold macaws became extinct in Trinidad and Tobago years ago because of the illegal wildlife trade. In recent years there has been a reintroduction program for this species, which is now becoming established again in the North East of Trinidad. Macaws seized from trade and rehabilitated are now adding to this small population.

I had the great joy of watching three macaws, victims of the illegal wildlife trade, return to the wild. Having spent some time in a large flight aviary where they could build up their muscles, it was decided they were ready for life in the wild. It was quite an amazing experience to see the birds fly together – making a large circle high above the release site, and then head off together out of sight.

-- IR

For more information about the International Fund for Animal Welfare effort to help save animals in crisis around the world visit https://ifaw.org

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