The beautiful (and now legendary) quetzal, an emblematic bird of southern Mexico and Central America, is on the verge of extinction due to habitat loss and poaching, among other reasons, according to a researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM.
The resplendent quetzal faces a range of existential threats, the institution said in a statement Friday Dec. 4, citing an expert at UNAM’s School of Higher Studies Iztacala, Sofia Solorzano Lujano, who pointed in particular to illegal trafficking and habitat fragmentation and destruction.
The expert also noted that the birds, known for their strikingly colorful plumage, were in peril due to “predators like the green toucan, squirrels and other nocturnal mammals, which attack their eggs or small chicks.”
“Also threats are owls, falcons and small eagles, which kill the adults,” she said.
But besides predators, resplendent quetzals are under threat from people who hunt them for their feathers or to try to sell them as pets, according to Solorzano.
One of the big problems is that these birds “are unable to survive in captivity,” she said, adding that “once trapped they stop eating and die.”
They also are threatened by deforestation, which has resulted in the disappearance of nearly 70 percent of their nesting sites, she added.
The resplendent quetzal, whose scientific name is Pharomachrus mocinno, lives in cloud forests stretching from the southern Mexican states of Oaxaca, Campeche and Chiapas to Panama and is the national bird of Guatemala, that gives name to the nation’s currency.
At the Zoológico Miguel Álvarez del Toro in Chiapas, a program was created in January 2015 to try to multiply the quetzal population in an adapted habitat, with fairly good results.
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