Ecuador aids conservation of rare parrot species

18th Dec 2013

Ecuador, with its 1,600 bird species, has always been ideally placed to offer tailor-made holidays for "twitchers" on specialist tours.

Now the destination's reputation looks set to be enhanced as it hosts an attempt to save a rare parrot from the threat of extinction in the wild.

The Ecuador Amazon parrot's plight has been helped by its reclassification as a species in its own right.

Until now, it was deemed to be part of a group not considered a conservation priority.

Just 600 of these colourful, mainly green parrots are believed to be left in the wild. They require two habitats - mangroves and dry forests, such as those on Ecuador's west coast - in order to survive.

Previously, the Ecuador Amazon parrot was considered to be one of four subspecies with the five-million-strong Amazona autumnalis group, found in Central America and parts of Brazil.

Because of the size of the population and large range, it did not feature among conservationists' priorities.

The reclassification will help it secure protection when it is placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species next spring.

You don't have to be a birdwatcher, however, to enjoy Ecuador's tourism delights, many of which are as colourful as the Ecuador Amazon parrot.

Visitors on city breaks to Quito can enjoy the world's second-highest capital city looked down upon by Andean peaks and volcanoes.

Tourists, especially those on trekking holidays, can enjoy its all-year springlike climate, despite it being situated next to the Equator.

Its old town retains a vibrant working-class culture and indigenous character, which helped it earn Unesco World Heritage Site status in 1978.

With its Galapagos Islands, tropical valleys, ancient caves, cultural sites and bustling metropolises, Ecuador has much to offer global tourists.

To this, it can now add rail holidays after a 250 million dollars (£163 million) investment to revive the country's long-neglected train network.

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