A small group of scientists and philanthropists have personally contributed enough money to finalize the creation of a bioreserve on the Caribbean island of Dominica. The reserve is home to the Sisserou, the world’s rarest Amazon parrot and the national bird of Dominica. Only 200 of these parrots are believed to exist.
Led by Dr. Paul Reillo, the director of the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation in Loxahatchee, Fla., conservation biologists, private individuals and foundations raised $439,000. An additional $311,000 came from the foundation’s operational funds and a mortgage on its property as well as Reillo’s personal savings. These funds along with $366,000 from the Dominican government were used to purchase the last remaining tract of private land needed to complete the reserve.
Since its independence in 1978, the Dominican government has worked hard to protect its natural resources. It has established two national parks and the new bioreserve on the slopes of Morne Diablotin, an extinct volcano, will become the third. Most of Dominica is covered by pristine rain forest and is often referred to as the "nature island." It has more than 365 rivers, dozens of waterfalls, and an abundance of endemic species.
Reillo, who has conducted extensive research on the island, says the financial risk both personally and for the foundation was justified. "Everybody can help save the world’s natural heritage. The trick is making sure funds leave permanent conservation footprints, such as protected areas."