Chile’s burrowing parrot marks 35 years of a slow but successful recovery

Chile’s burrowing parrot marks 35 years of a slow but successful recovery

The story of Cristián Bonacic and Río de los Cipreses National Reserve is, in a way, a story of love at first sight: they “met” in the summer of 1986, when Bonacic was studying veterinary medicine and the 38,000 hectares (93,900 acres) of foothills had not yet been officially declared a reserve. Since then, their lives have been intertwined. At first, Bonacic wanted to observe, count, and record animals. In those years, having adequate clothing and equipment was difficult and expensive. Besides, he knew little about the wildlife and even less about mountains. He pitched a tent directly on top of a damp meadow, and his thin sleeping bag did not keep him warm. “I used to sleep for a little while in the mornings, when the sun beat down on the tent.” he says. In the higher part of the mountain range, which is representative of central Chile, Bonacic searched for the guanaco (Lama guanicoe), a close relative of the llama. Down in the Cachapoal River Basin, he dedicated days to counting burrowing parrots (Cyanoliseus patagonus bloxami), which were louder and easier to find than guanacos. However, the outlook was discouraging. There were only 217 parrots, and Chile’s National Forest Corporation (CONAF) estimated that there were 3,300 in the country. The flocks of parrots that had previously inhabited the land between the provinces of Copiapó and Valdivia, which sit 1,500 kilometers (about 930 miles) apart, were now reduced to fragmented populations. Before the end of that initial visit, park…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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