Enduring Wildlife Conservation is About Conserving Human Livelihood

By Brent Fewell

So often, we hear stories of wildlife extinction or near extinction due to imbalances created by habitat encroachment or insatiable human appetites.  This week I’m highlighting the extraordinary conservation work of Paul Butler of the organization RARE, who has helped to bring the St. Lucia Parrot population back from near extinction to now on the road to recovery.  In the 1970s these beautiful birds were on the brink of extinction – only 150 specimens – due to deforestation for agriculture and illegal hunting and capture for international pet trade.  There are now 1,500 St. Lucia Parrots flying about the forests of the Caribbean.  Paul and his local partners, churches, businesses, and musicians, brought attention to the plight of this bird by appealing to local “pride” and working with local communities to protect people’s livelihood.  According to Paul,

Conservation is not just about fluffy animals and about protecting habitat.  It’s also about protecting people’s livelihoods. When you appeal to people on both their rational and emotional side, we find that conservation can gain traction and can be successful.

Kudos to Paul and his team and leveraging the right incentives for success.  You can find out more about RARE and Paul’s work here and here.