BIRD TALK Magazine chatted with Steve Milpacher, director of business development for the World Parrot Trust, and asked him about the role the World Parrot Trust plays in the avian community today.
BT: What is the World Parrot Trust?
Milpacher: The World Parrot Trust (WPT) is a vibrant global organization devoted to helping parrots survive in the wild and thrive in our homes. Simply put, we protect parrots.
For wild parrots, the WPT moves quickly to aid urgent initiatives and support long-term projects to save these wonderful birds. Wherever possible, we work with key stakeholders to bring about meaningful and permanent change. Our work includes field research and conservation programs, protecting and restoring habitat, advocating for legislative change, conducting education and awareness programs, and encouraging ecotourism.
We strongly advocate for eliminating the trade in wild-caught parrots to end a destructive and unsustainable practice affecting tens of thousands of birds each year. We do this with international campaigning and by supporting the rescue, rehabilitation and release of wild parrots caught in the trade.
For birds no longer in the wild, we strive to provide parrot caregivers with the very best information available on parrot care by publishing a range of print-based, multimedia and online resources intended to enhance pet bird welfare and their long-term well-being.
BT: How did the World Parrot Trust start?
Milpacher: The WPT was started in 1989 at Paradise Park, a family-run bird park located in Cornwall, United Kingdom, with the simple premise to help parrots survive in the wild and to thrive in captivity and a determination that, “What is best for the birds, guides everything we do.” Owners of the park, Michael and Audrey Reynolds, provided the inspirational leadership and initial funding to start the Trust, in addition to free office space and facilities.
Under their guidance, and with the addition of a full-time executive director in the year 2000 — parrot biologist James D. Gilardi, Ph.D. — the WPT has grown from a modest beginning into a conservation and welfare powerhouse. It has become one of the world’s largest member-based parrot conservation and welfare organizations, with the support of thousands of caring members in 50 countries. Because of this support, the WPT is able to carry out dozens of scientific conservation and welfare projects around the globe each year.
BT: What are the challenges facing the World Parrot Trust in the changing bird community?
Milpacher: Our biggest challenge is getting the word out to as many people as possible, as often as possible, to make a difference.
Parrots are known worldwide as some of the most recognizable, beautiful, charismatic and intelligent of all birds. They inhabit a range of environments — from snow-capped peaks, to tropical rain forests, to arid desert areas — and are found on every continent except Antarctica. Sadly, however, parrots are also the most threatened family of birds on Earth, with almost 100 species threatened in the wild, a full one-third of the approximately 360 species that make up this group. It is for this reason that parrots need help to survive in the wild.
Millions of families worldwide also share their household with one or more birds, as parrots are often a popular choice for a pet. Most of these companion birds are much-loved, receiving the very best their caregivers can offer, and end up leading long and healthy lives. Unfortunately, not all parrots are treated this well and, although a small percentage, many languish in captivity as a result of poor care. It is for this reason that parrot welfare in captivity is also of great concern to the Trust.
We welcome the participation of everyone and anyone who can help us to help parrots.
BT: How does the World Parrot Trust promote parrot conservation?
Milpacher: The WPT encourages and supports parrot conservation through a varied approach ranging from providing educational information in a variety of formats, to hosting meetings with key stakeholders, to encouraging opportunities for people to see wild parrots with special events, such as our upcoming Parrot Lover’s Cruise.
Our educational programs can be found in local communities where parrots naturally occur and on the Internet, through our website and monthly email newsletter, “Flock Talk,” and within our communities on Facebook and Twitter. In printed publications we promote parrot conservation through our quarterly magazine “PsittaScene” and by collaborating with parrot magazines such as BIRD TALK. We also present information about parrot conservation at veterinary and avian conferences around the world.
In regions where parrots naturally occur, the WPT coordinates meetings and workshops where we encourage the collaboration of parrot enthusiasts and researchers, local communities and government leaders, and the participation of local and international conservation/welfare non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to find long-term solutions to aid parrot conservation.
Most recently we have been participating in exciting initiatives like the Parrot Lover’s Cruise, where enthusiasts discover some of the bluest waters and best sightseeing in the world while getting an education while onboard.
Learn more about the World Parrot Trust at their website.