Parrots are indulging in ‘exaggerated mating’ to relieve the stress of getting caught up in Hurricane Maria, experts reveal
- Dominica’s native sisserou parrot was badly hit by last year’s extreme weather
- They mate for life and an expert said they wanted to feel ‘loved and comforted’
- The country’s critically endangered mountain chicken frog has also suffered
Parrots in the Caribbean are indulging in ‘exaggerated mating’ after the stress of being caught up in Hurricane Maria, experts say.
Dominica’s native sisserou parrot, which is depicted in the national flag was badly hit by last year’s 160mph winds and hundreds may have been lost.
The parrots mate for life, are said to be extremely faithful to each other and even grieve for a lost partner.
‘Just like humans, some animals want to feel loved and comforted when they’ve suffered trauma, which can lead to exaggerated mating,’ a forestry officer said.
Dominica’s native sisserou parrot (pictured), which is depicted in the national flag was badly hit by last year’s 160mph winds and hundreds may have been lost
Dominica’s famously lush forests are slowly coming back to life after the worst destruction in the country’s history.
But up to half of the estimated 400 sisserou birds – also known as Imperial amazons – left in the wild may have been lost, according to forestry officer Bradley Guye.
‘The impact on their habitat affects everything, from their feeding habits to their stress levels and the way they relate to each other,’ he said.
‘And some just want to hide away and not see anybody.’
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Exacerbating the parrots’ plight was the loss of Dominica’s abundant fresh fruit trees, an important food source.
Apples, pears and grapes were flown in especially for them to eat. Fruit was left at strategic locations in the wild and brought to a breeding center in the capital, Roseau, along with several injured parrots
The mountain chicken frog, which has come close to extinction because of a deadly fungal disease, has also been threatened further by the damage to forests.
The critically endangered frog was once the national dish, gaining its name from its chicken-like taste.
The mountain chicken frog (pictured), which is already critically endangered, also suffered as a result of the hurricane as Dominica’s forests were badly damaged in the storm
Hurricane Maria struck on September 18, 2017 and killed dozens of people in Dominica. Pictured: damaged caused to a home in Pichelin
The Dominica forest is seen in August 2015, two years before Hurricane Maria tore the tiny Caribbean island apart and caused severe damage to trees and habitats
Dubbed the ‘crapaud’ – French for ‘toad’ – the frogs are unusually large, breed in underground burrows rather than water, and have a distinctive mating call that is somewhere between a ‘whoop’ and a bark.
‘We have been to their usual sites and heard their calls so we know there is still some activity,’ Mr Guye said. ‘But their habitat was badly damaged and some relocated.’
‘The skin disease combined with the storm means their status is very shaky.’
The ‘nature isle’ owes much to its forests, long the source of everything from bush medicine to eco-tourism.
Environment chiefs say sightings of agouti, possums, red-necked amazon parrots and doves have been positive and they hope to begin a thorough wildlife inventory in January.
Hurricane Maria struck on September 18, 2017 and killed dozens of people, ripped roofs from 90 percent of buildings and caused damage topping $1.3 billion.
‘Our wildlife is a resource that’s integral to our culture and traditions, and we work hard to protect our forests,’ Guye said.
‘Without it, children today would not know what a mountain chicken or an agouti was. I want my children and grandchildren to know too.’
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