Sisserou Parrot, Dominica's National Bird
Sisserou Parrot, Dominica's National Bird

According to the CEBF, this year's celebration will pivot around the theme: "Spread Your Wings for Bird Conservation".

The theme suggests that we all must contribute, somehow or the other, towards the grand effort and determination to conserve birds, whether through enacting or enforcing all relevant Wildlife laws; or whether through educational activities and appropriate events, or merely through our own individual conduct and attitude pertaining to the support and sustainability of bird life and their existence.

Birds Caribbean, under whose auspices this type of effort is being initiated, is a Caribbean ornithology organization which has been instituted to, primarily, support bird conservation and protection is also therefore involved with the survival and the sustainability of birds, especially the endemic ones.

The organization hopes to achieve this mainly through the involvement of the islands governments and other authoritative bodies, organizations (e.g. NGO's) and groups (schools and clubs). Some definitions:

Endemic: this term basically refers to animal or plant species which live, thrive and are found only in a particular geographical area (e.g. a region, a country, an island etc.). If any such species are found anywhere else, they would necessary be considered exotic and not endemic to such places.

Exotic: imported species. They are foreign to where they have been introduced.

Indigenous: Such species are native to where they occur and thrive or prosper, though they may be indigenous to other areas or islands as well.

Conservation: wise use of our natural resources in a manner to maintain sound sustainability.

Protection: hands off! Not to be interfered. (i.e. the natural resources, e.g. within the National Parks and Protected areas or a specially protected animal).

Dominica's Endemics

Dominica has two endemic birds: the Sisserou Parrot (Amazonia imperialis) and the Red-necked or Jaco Parrot (Amazonia arausiaca). These two large birds are very important to us as a nation, for they are the only two of their species worldwide.

A visit to the office of the Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division, and/or interviews with their staff members, especially the field officers, will serve to enlighten all interested persons concerning relevant Wildlife Laws and Forest Laws. This action may even lead to exciting visits to the forest. Visits that may well result in personal educational enhancement and memorial adventures.

Importance of Endemics

Most countries, or nations view the possession of an endemic species as a great blessing. First of all, that status affords the national in question the opportunity to make a direct contribution to the world's inventory and stock of biodiversity. If the species in question becomes extinct, then the world has loses a rare species.

And as has been hinted above, the possession, moreover, of a rare (endemic) species allows for a certain degree of status among the realm of world biodiversity. It is, therefore, in that nation's interest for its government and other associated authorities to do all within their power to protect and conserve such special species.

How can we help

We can help in the general effort of conservation and protection by observing all wildlife laws. We must also realize that even the regarding of all forest laws are also very crucial since, the habitat or home of most of the wildlife is the forest. (Of course, the fish live in the water). We must go further to encourage others to do so.

Other groups and organizations inclusive, for example, of the 4H Clubs, Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and Rangers, school clubs, Rotary Clubs, Lion Clubs, walking or hiking groups can all play their role in encouraging Dominicans to enjoy and appreciate what God has given to us: beautiful and diverse animal and plant species, rare and special.

Some useful information

In way of information, it would be quite beneficial to note the following provisions made by government in the interest and well-being of birds, and other wildlife species.

  • The Forestry and Wildlife Act Chapter: 60:02 of the Revised Laws of Dominica 1990 states what animal (inclusive of birds can and cannot be taken in the wild).

  • The said Act also makes provision for a close and open season for hunting.

  • The Act goes on to mention which wildlife species are specially protected (e.g. our birds the Sisserou and Jaco parrots)

  • The Forest Act 60;01 of 1990 provides for the regulation of the sale of timber and the regulation of activities within state owned lands inclusive of Forest Reserves. In that way, the habitat of wildlife is preserved and maintained intact.

  • The establishment of National Parks and Protected Areas, Act 42:02 of 1990 together with the purchase of lands for protection with the assistance of friendly NGO's are yet other examples of government effort to provide safe haven for wildlife since by law the same act there is to be no hunting or sale of trees in such areas.

  • Within the Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division, arrangements had been made to structure in an educational unit which is referred to as the Environmental Education Unit. That unit has been charged with the responsibility to educate the general Dominican public on matters pertaining to conservation and protection of plants and wild animals. This unit has been in existence for over thirty years now.

Let us, therefore, join together this year and forever in a renewed and exciting resolution to care, conserve and protect what is ours, beautiful Dominica.

Adolphus Christian

Retired Forest Officer