Fundacion Parke Nacional Aruba (FPNA) And Partners Take Action to Reintroduce the Lora in Aruba
ORANJESTAD, ARUBA – November 2023 – During a presentation to valued nature partners and stakeholders, in the presence of Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix, Fundacion Parke Nacional Aruba (FPNA) announced its plans to reintroduce the locally extinct, yellow-shouldered amazon, also known locally as the Lora, in Aruba as part of its Species Conservation & Reintroduction Program. Thirty-three (33) Loras belonging to the parrot family, which were illegally smuggled by sea from neighboring countries, were placed under the care of FPNA – through a Ministerial decree as the legally appointed organization to conserve the Lora. This critical effort aims to successfully reintroduce the parrot within the island’s protected nature areas and sets the stage for the restoration of this extinct species and its ecological function in Aruba.
The Lora (Amazona barbadensis) has been a locally extirpated species in Aruba for the last decades yet continues to hold a significant place in the island’s heritage. As the predominant parrot species, it played a distinctive ecological function, particularly in seed dispersal, contributing to the proliferation of plant species that, in turn, support a broader range of wildlife life. The mission of FPNA’s Lora Reintroduction & Conservation Project is to establish self-sustaining populations of the Lora on a national level. Populations of this species continue to exist in isolated places on Bonaire and Curaçao, in addition to northern parts of Venezuela and the Venezuelan islands of Margarita and La Blanquilla. The Lora has been assessed for The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 2021. For Aruba specifically, the Lora is protected by law under the Nature Ordinance, Art. 4, and AB 2017 no. 48.
Local Threats to the “Lora”
Parrots and Parakeets are one of the most endangered groups of birds in the world. There are many threats to Lora populations and most of the threats are of human origin (Birdlife International 2017, Silvius 1991). It is believed that the Lora was extirpated in Aruba around 1947 through poaching for pet trade and killed for being considered an agricultural pest (Voous 1983). Some of the major local threats are invasive species and predators such as domestic cats, boas, and rats, and poaching for the pet trade.
For Aruba, the reintroduction of the Lora is necessary as it benefits local ecosystems and enhances biodiversity. Additionally, the reintroduction efforts offer a prime opportunity to educate the public on the causes of extinction and the importance of species conservation. Showcasing the successful return of birds that were once held in captivity or born in such conditions, serves as a compelling testament to the possibilities of global parrot conservation.
For FPNA, the goal is to create a self-sustained Lora population in Aruba, by reintroducing and restoring the Lora wild populations for future generations. Mitigating threats through reintroduction, conservation actions, research, education and awareness, community engagement and policy development is essential.
For the past year, FPNA’s Conservation team and rangers with the support of local, regional, and international experts have been hard at work to successfully complete the various phases necessary ahead of the reintroduction, while also intensifying efforts in community awareness and involvement. FPNA is dedicated to establishing a lasting funding structure through adoption and sponsorship initiatives to support this program for the coming decades. Ultimately, by the year 2043, FPNA aspires to see thriving populations of the Lora throughout the island of Aruba.
Fundacion Parke Nacional Aruba extends its gratitude towards local, regional, and international partners for their support in its Lora reintroduction endeavors. It takes a village to reintroduce the Lora back to Aruba and this could not have been done without the dedicated support of so many – in especially the rangers of FPNA, the countless volunteers and invaluable partners such as Dr. Ricardo Gorgoza and team, Veterinaire Dienst Aruba, CITES Authority, Directorate of Nature and Environment, the Department of Public Health, Aruba Birdlife Conservation and volunteers, Aruba Airport Authority, Vogelpark AviFauna, Echo Bonaire, World Parrot Trust, the Ministry of Public Health and a special thank you to Aruba’s Minister of Nature, Minister Ursell Arends, and his team. Accompanying Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix was Minister Ursell Arends, Minister of Nature, who had the honor of witnessing the magnificent Loras ahead of their release.
In preparation for the release of the Loras, FPNA will embark on a nationwide awareness campaign with the objective of driving awareness and education about the importance of native birds of Aruba and ultimately transform the community of Aruba into custodians of these birds alongside FPNA.