Viajar a Copan Ruinas no es del todo bueno si no conoces el parque de aves «macaw mountain»; el mejor recuerdo que te llevas del sitio es una fotografía con el ave nacional de Honduras: la guacamaya roja. Fue el extranjero Lloyd Davidson, de Knoxville, Tennessee (EEUU) quien fundó este parque en diciembre del año 2001, enamorado de la vegetación y el clima perfecto de Copan Ruinas. Te compartimos la entrevista realizada en inglés por Ruta5:
The American who founded the bird park in Copan
Traveling to Copan Ruinas is not at all good if you don’t know the bird park «macaw mountain»; The best memory that you take of this site is a photograph with the national bird of Honduras: the red macaw. It was the foreigner Lloyd Davidson, of Knoxville, Tennessee (USA) who founded this park in December of 2001, in love with the vegetation and the perfect climate of Copan Ruinas. We share the interview with him:
R5: Where are you from Lloyd?
I am from Knoxville, Tennessee in the U.S.
R5: How long you live in Copan Ruins and why?
I have been in Copan Ruinas since 2000 but have spent a total of 32 years in Honduras. I spent two years in Roatan from 1973 to 1975 helping establish the diving operation at Anthony’s Key Resort. I returned in 1986 and began a fresh fish export company called Flying Fish and ran it until I came to Copan.
R5: When the bird park opened?
Macaw Mountain actually opened in Dec. 2001 but construction began two years earlier.
R5: How was born this project?
The park is built on a 10 acre property only 2 kilometers from the center of Copan that has intact old growth forest and the remnants of a small coffee plantation. The park is built on both sides of a beautiful mountain stream that supports the lush vegetation and provides a cool micro climate in the warmer months. As you follow the path through the forest you encounter large aviaries with the parrots, macaws, toucans, and raptors of Honduras along the way. A special “encounter area” allows visitors to contact many of the species on a personal level or be photographed with them. Educational material is presented throughout the park concerning the life history and conservation of these birds and our guides and staff are available to answer questions. The overall experience is an immersion in the beauty of Honduran nature with its spectacular birds and in a truly relaxing and very natural environment. On the practical side Macaw Mt. has a streamside restaurant, a Coffee Shop with overhanging deck, and a Gift Shop focused on Honduran crafts and products. These are important as Macaw Mt. is a private initiative and self supporting.
R5: What can i find in macaw park?
The park became reality in a fairly long and evolutionary process. It all began in Roatan when I agreed in the early 1990’s to care for a collection of unwanted parrots “for several months” and as time passed I accidently became “the bird man of Roatan”. The collection expanded as the island developed and foreign residents found that the parrot they had purchased as a part of being in Paradise was a lot to handle or they bailed out of “Paradise”. As the number of birds increased past 50 it became evident that some means of supporting them long term was needed. The first Cruise Ships had begun to visit Roatan so a small bird park was built in Sandy Bay to hopefully generate the necessary income. The park survived there for about 5 years and taught us a lot about the parrots, caring for them, and about ecotourism. I had been in Roatan a long time and needed a change so the move to Copan was a personal decision made after a visit here that fascinated me. Economically staying on the island made more sense as the cruise ship boom had obviously begun but I was ready to go. I was lucky enough to find this beautiful property and after two years of work we loaded 90 parrots and toucans on a chartered plane and flew them to the Copan Valley. They went from the seaside to the mountains in just an hour in a permanent change of scenery.
R5: You have projects for this year 2017?
2017 will be a very busy and important year for the park as our efforts and mission have been undergoing a lot of change. We have evolved from simply caring for unwanted birds, to utilizing them to educate our visitors , to now rehabilitating them to release back to the wild. Our pilot program has been conducted here in Copan releasing Scarlet Macaws in the archaeological park, a World Heritage Site, over the past five years. Now more than 40 macaws fly about the Ruins changing the experience there spectacularly. They were sacred to the Maya and are the National Bird of Honduras so their return is important on several levels. Our partners in the effort have been the Institute of Anthropology and History, The Copan Association, the Forestry Conservation Institute, and the World Parrot Trust. The program has been surprisingly successful thanks to an education program that targeted local grade schools and has developed amazing support in the community. Release programs are normally conducted in well protected national forests, not populated valleys, so we have in the process developed a model that can be used elsewhere it seems. Due to the number of Hondurans that yearly visit the Ruins interest in macaw releases elsewhere in the country has grown. We have been contacted by groups from La Ceiba. Roatan and Utila in the Bay Islands, and Puerto Cortez about reintroductions of macaws or amazon parrots and are close to initiating several of those in 2017. In addition we are going to release more groups of Scarlet Macaws around Copan but outside the Ruins in an area legally designated as “The Sacred Valley of the Scarlet Macaw”.
R5: Can you send an invitation to the tourist in the world?
We hope that as many Hondurans as possible will be able to visit us, both those living in the country and those returning home for a visit. It is a chance to experience the incredible natural beauty of this country in concentrated form and to learn a lot about its spectacular birds and the importance of protecting them for the future. Just by visiting the park you are helping our programs to return them to the wild.
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Tel: +504 2651 4245
Text: R5 / Photos by C4 Visual, Copan Ruinas.