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speciesism

June 11, 2019 - National Geographic

This Amazon bird’s eggs are black-market gold. Here’s why.

This Amazon bird’s eggs are black-market gold. Here’s why.
Credit: Jacalyn BealesFile Photo / © Photabulous!

The hyacinth macaw, a blue and yellow bird known as the “king of parrots.” This magnificent bird’s popularity among pet owners has almost led to its demise.

In a sophisticated laundering scheme, traffickers fly the eggs to Europe, incubate them, and pass the live birds off as captive-bred.

By 1990, following a decade when an estimated 10,000 hyacinth macaws were taken from the wild for the pet trade, their numbers were believed to have fallen to a precarious low of about 1,500 individuals.

Today, trade in wild hyacinth macaws is strictly prohibited, with national laws and international agreements protecting the species. The only ones that can be traded legally are those born in captivity, which cost at least $10,000. Some fetch several times as much.

The caveat for breeders: Hyacinth macaws are notorious for failing to reproduce in captivity, and no one knows why. Even if they lay eggs, the embryos often die, or they’re unfertilized duds.

No one tracks how many of the birds are held in captivity, and how many breed successfully, but as Hebel and other experts have attested, because they’re so difficult to breed, demand always outweighs supply. That’s why traffickers are laundering macaw eggs.

Read more at National Geographic


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