Tanagers returned to the forest

junio 24, 2024
Few days ago, the veterinary clinic of the Quito Zoo received 26 tanagers, songbirds of great beauty and bright colors. These birds were rescued from wildlife trafficking by environmental and police authorities in control operations at the Mariscal Sucre Airport and Sangolquí market. At the air terminal, the victims of this illicit action were in cardboard boxes, as part of the hand luggage carried by the person involved in this crime.

Officials of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition (MAATE) and of the National Police responded to complaints, after which the wildlife specimens were detained. Then, the birds were transferred to the Quito Zoo in Guayllabamba. Here, they received medical attention to determine their physical condition. They were kept in a space isolated from human contact, provided with heating, humidity, and additional oxygen, due to atmospheric conditions different from those of their lowland tropical forest habitat. Some could not withstand the extraction from the place they were not supposed to leave and died, while the survivors needed urgent reintegration.

Due to the coordination of QuitoZoo with the environmental authority, the release of these birds was not delayed. It was possible to release them on Friday, May 24, in the cloud forests in the northwest of Pichincha province, where Quito belongs. Martín Bustamante, director of the Quito Zoo, pointed out that wildlife trafficking seriously affects Ecuadorian fauna. «These animals are part of trafficking and petting networks, which end up in homes inside or outside the country,» explained Bustamante. He also stressed the importance of zoological institutions working in coordination with environmental authorities to counteract this reality, and «that the forests continue to maintain biodiversity, produce water and that we can have a natural environment proper to this megadiverse country».

The place chosen for the release of 10 tanagers, the survivors of the airport, and 2 from the Sangolquí market, was «La Elenita», an area that the Zoos of Karlsruhe (Germany) and Quito maintain in the zone of Mindo, San Miguel de los Bancos, 94 kilometers from Quito. The nature reserve areas comprise approximately 200 hectares of forest in the process of restoration. The cloud forest reserve and the ecological restoration processes support a very diverse bird community, including populations of the species that were released from the reserve.

The species reinserted in La Elenita were:

Spangled tanager, Tangara nigroviridis
Nuchidorid tanager, Tangara ruficervix
Silvery tanager, Icterocephala tanager, Icterocephala tanager.

The administration of this reserve is in charge of the Quito Zoo, where the objective is to sustain the recovery of the forest and develop different projects for research, conservation, environmental education, and other purposes that promote the care of nature.

In addition to the twelve birds reinserted in La Elenita, three other birds were released during the day: an individual of the emerald tanager (Tangara florida) was released in the Milpe-Pachijal area, while two other individuals of the fire-faced tanager (Tangara parzudakii) were reinserted in Tandayapa, both regions are near to Mindo. Each site was chosen according to the biology and needs of the species and in coordination with specialists representing conservation areas in these areas of the Andean Chocó, with whom we are building a network of nature reserves focused on ecosystem restoration, conservation and environmental education.


Find out all the details of this case in the video below:

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