Questions are being raised about the organization the government of Dominica says has been given the task of helping ensure the survival of the island’s Sisserou and Jaco parrots.
The German-based ACTP – the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots – is described as a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of endangered parrots world-wide.
Founded by German Martin Guth in 2006, the ACTP is being lauded by an Australian colleague of the founder as “the best breeding facility for parrots I have ever visited”.
If Simon Degenhard is correct with that assessment, then officials in Roseau can comfortably shrug off concerns being raised on the island about ten Jacos and two Sisserou parrots having been sacrificed by being put in the hands of people allegedly intent on exporting parrots for large sums of money.
However one Australian who follows the bird business very closely, argues that Dominica needs to take a second look at Guth and his organization.
Lloyd Marshall publishes the monthly Magazine “Talking Birds” in Australia, and tells DNO why he is not overly impressed with the ACTP and two of the key players involved in the organization:
“Martin Guth and his Australian associate Simon Degenhard exported 74 rare Australian birds to Germany in December 2017. It is illegal to export native birds from Australia, the only exception being if they are going to a recognised zoo, to be used for conservation, research or for display purposes. The Association for the Conservation of Threatened Species is registered in Germany as a zoo. Guth claims the 74 birds were exported for display purposes. The ACTP premises are not open to the public, so to claim that the birds were for display purposes is nonsense”.
Marshall also contends that “ACTP is a very secretive operation and refuses to answer basic questions”.
Days after news broke that rare birds endemic to Dominica were taken to Germany, the government sought to respond to public queries saying the matter was handled legally for captive breeding purposes.
Some of the allegations suggested that the birds were ‘smuggled’ from Dominica with little or no public knowledge of what was going on.
In an official response the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Reginald Thomas shot down claims that the birds were smuggled, saying everything was done above board and the birds were transferred from the island to facilitate the breeding of a critically endangered species.
He stated that the birds will be kept in Germany at the ACTP facilities “for research into the breeding, particularly of the Sisserou, as a backup population in the event that the local population was to go extinct.”
The ACTP insists that it is a bona fide organization and negative comments being made about it are way off the mark and unfair.
According to Lloyd Marshall, however, many of the people “who supplied birds to Degenhard/Guth (from Australia) for export to Germany were not made aware of the birds’ destination, and would not have supplied the birds if they had known they were to be exported”.
He concludes that “Guth is known throughout aviculture as being shifty and constantly floods aviculture with misleading information in order to make ACTP look good. If Guth does manage to breed the birds he stole from Dominica, he would be able to name his own price from wealthy European collectors, possibly up to millions of dollars for each bird”.
ACTP is emphasizing that it is a “non-profit” organization, one that is dedicated to the protection of endangered parrots.