In the 1490s a minimum of 28 species of psittacines occurred in the West Indies. Today, only 43% (12) of the species survive. All macaws and most parakeet species have been lost. Although the surviving parrot fauna of the Greater Antilles, Cayman Islands, and Bahama Islands has fared somewhat better than that of the Lesser Antilles, every species has undergone extensive reductions of populations and all but two have undergone extensive reductions in range, mostly as a result of habitat loss, but also from persecution as agricultural pests, conflicts with exotic species, harvesting for pets, and natural disasters. The Cayman Brac Parrot Amazona leucocephala hesterna with its tiny population (less than 150 individuals in the wild) and range, and the Puerto Rican Parrot A. vittata, with about 22-23 birds in the wild and 56 individuals in captivity, must be considered on the verge of extinction and in need of (in the latter's case, continuing) aggressive programmes of research and management. Other populations declining in numbers and range include the Yellow-billed Amazona collaria, and Black-billed A. agilis Parrots of Jamaica, Hispaniolan Parakeet Aratinga chloroptera, Hispaniolan Parrot Amazona ventralis, Cuban Parrot A. leucocephala leucocephala and, most seriously, Cuban Parakeet Aratinga euops. The population of the Grand Cayman Parrot (Amazona leucocephala caymanensis), although numbering only about 1,000 birds, appears stable and the current conservation programme gives hope for the survival of the race. An active conservation and public education programme has begun for the Bahama Parrot A. l. bahamensis, which still occurs in good numbers on Great Inagua Island, but is threatened on Abaco Island. Recommendations for conservation of parrots and parakeets in the region include (1) instituting long-term programmes of research to determine distribution, status, and ecology of each species; (2) developing conservation programmes through education and management approaches that are culturally, politically, and economically sensitive to the region; and (3) providing and protecting habitat within suitably sized reserves.
Additional Publication Details
Status and conservation of parrots and parakeets in the Greater Antilles, Bahama Islands, and Cayman Islands