There is a girl from Brazil in my most recent middle grade novel BIRD NERD. Her father (Papa) rehabilitates injured macaws while teaching them to talk for mute people. Papa has two scarlet macaws. Silvio, one of the macaws, doesn't trust Eddie, who is the main character and a serious birder.
Before I wrote the book, I had to prepare. I gathered field guides, studied regional species, and took walks with binoculars slung around my neck. I had to become a bird nerd or suffer the undeniable pain of writing an inconsistent, insincere voice.
While researching, I came across this article from Smithsonian magazine. When I found this article, I was already entrenched in the manuscript and had become close with my characters, including Silvio and his mate. The article is called Wildlife Trafficking. It reveals the sad world of the illicit animal trade, surpassed only by drugs and weapons trafficking. I urge you to at least scroll through the images, because as we all know pictures speak louder than words.
Facts from the article:
- Stolen animals are a $10 billion business worldwide.
- In parts of Brazil, tamed wild animals are called xerimbabos, which means "something beloved"
- A coveted "blue macaw" from Brazil can ultimately sell for $10,000 or more.
- Perhaps 400,000 to 800,000 parrot chicks are poached from nests every year.
- Of 145 parrot species in the Americas, 46 are at risk of extinction.
The author writes:
"At one market in Ecuador, I was offered a parakeet. I asked the seller how I would get it on an airplane. 'Give it vodka and put it in your pocket.'"
The World Parrot Trust
Traffic - the wildlife trade monitoring network