Double Yellow-headed Amazon Parrot (Amazona oratrix)
PROPOSAL 12.17 The yellow-headed parrot (Amazona oratrix) in-habits open and semi-open savannah and foresthabitats from Mexico through northern Central America. Mexico is the primary range state, withtwo disjunct populations in the Pacific slope andGulf of Mexico slope. Additional, small popula-tions occur from northeastern Guatemala to theHonduras border; and in Belize.
The species is consideredendangered by every rangestate, and by the IUCN. A 1994 study found that yellow-headed parrots had declined from 700,000 to no more than 7,000 wild birds sincethe mid- 1970s???a popu-lation decline of ninety percent (90%) in only two decades. Early results of acountry-wide assessment in Mexico suggest serious de-clines have continued since1994. Remnant populations are small and highly fragmented. The subpopu-lation of Tres Marias Islands, Mexico numbers less than 800 birds. In Guatemala the population numbers only a few hundred and the Belize population is not much bigger.
The primary threats to the species are habitatdestruction and harvest for the pet trade. Some 86,000 yellow-headed parrots were exported from Mexico between 1982 and 1989. Tradecontinues at significant levels even though the species is legally protected in most range states.More than 540 yellow-headed parrots were seized at US-Mexico border crossings between1990 and 1993. U.S. agents seized 360 yellow-heads in 1998 alone. And the yellow-headed remained the most-seized parrot in Mexico from1998 to 2000. Illegal specimens have also been seized en route to Europe and Asia.
These seizures dramatically understate the im-pact of continued trade for several reasons. By its very nature, much of the illegal trade in this species goes undetected. Moreover, it has been estimated that up to 90% of smuggled par-rots die before reaching foreign markets; the number of birds seized at border crossings thusrepresents only a fraction of the total number ofbirds harvested for trade. Finally, poaching for the pet trade is an important driver of habitat de-struction, the other leading threat to this species.Nest poaching is rampant through-out the yellow-headed parrot’s range. Because nesting trees are felled to get at nestlings, trade-related poaching often destroys critical nest sites. Seventy percent(70%) of nesting and feeding habi-tat has been degraded in Mexicoalone. In northeastern Mexico, less than 17% of prime nesting habitatremains. Because availability of nest sites is a limiting factor forparrot populations, the remainingyellow-headed parrots can no longer sustain the double impact ofnest poaching and associatedhabitat loss.
Ongoing illegal trade is facilitated by the continu-ing availability of small numbers of legally-tradedparrots in global markets. Because of the strongrelationship between legal and illegal trade,Mexico’s Technical Subcommittee on the Man-agement and Conservation of Parrots has con-cluded that immediate listing on Appendix I is critical to the survival of this species.
The Yellow-headed parrot meets the biological and trade criteria of CITES for Appendix I. All of the range states support this proposal. Because of the substantial similarities of ap-pearancebetween this species and the yellow-napedparrot (Prop. 12.16), both spe-cies should be listed on Appendix I to facilitate en-forcement.YELLOW-HEADED PARROT (Amazona oratrix)
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