At a darkish hour between January 8 and 10, 2021, environmental conservation neighborhood chief Gonzalo Cardona Molina was killed in Valle del Cauca, Colombia. Gonzalo devoted the final 23 years of his life to defending the Yellow-eared Parrot, a wondrous chook that was at risk of extinction. (It has already been extirpated, or made regionally extinct, in neighboring Ecuador.)
Colombia has turn out to be considerably safer because the terrifying days of the narcos. It has turn out to be a extra fashionable birding vacation spot. It could possibly be the best birding vacation spot on the planet for its vary of habitat and variety of species.
But the South American nation remains to be the most dangerous place in the world to take a stand for the environment, in line with World Witness.
In 2019, 64 park rangers and others working to guard and protect nature had been killed. There may be ongoing battle between remnants of the FARC, which signed a nominal peace treaty with the federal government in 2016, the nation’s official armed forces, and different militarized teams.
It was into this mess that “Gonza” (as his many mates known as him) Cardona bravely stepped. He had been a farmer; he had no particular cause to guard an endangered species. He may have gone on together with his life, as a lot of his fellow Colombians do day by day. However he persevered.
When Gonzalo started counting the Yellow-eared Parrots in 1998, solely about 80 had been left in Colombia. Via his efforts — together with tree planting, habitat safety, and academic packages — and people of Fundación ProAves, the quantity grew to greater than 2,800 (35 instances extra the 1998 complete) when he accomplished his final census in December 2020.
After the census, on January 8, Gonzalo was headed house to Roncevalles, a mountain city 2,400 meters above sea stage. His birthplace, Roncevalles is a city that has been occupied by armed forces, its residents terrorized and killed. A spot to tread evenly.
There’s a street connecting Barragán and Roncesvalles. A lonely street, and a no-go zone after 6 pm. “Everybody is aware of,” mentioned the native papers. FARC holdouts, armed bandits, and others don’t like “their” territory compromised after darkish. Gonzalo hopped on his bike and headed house for a well-deserved relaxation after finishing the census.
He by no means made it.
A number of days later, after his disappearance was reported, Gonzalo’s spouse obtained a name from the perpetrators who shot and killed him. They will cease trying. Yow will discover his physique right here. His physique was discovered, lined in sticks and filth, with two bullets within the chest.
Gonzalo Cardona died defending a species of parrot that in any other case could have disappeared without end. He by no means questioned why he did it. It merely needed to be accomplished.
Gonza gave folks hope. He made Colombians pleased with their pure treasures, simply because the adventurous workforce at Expedicion BIO from the Humboldt Institute is reclaiming this heritage and giving the nation a path ahead in conservation and ecotourism. Gonzalo lives on within the work of Fundación ProAves all through Colombia, and thru the annual Yellow-eared Parrot Competition in Roncevalles, near the place he died.
“Colombia didn’t simply lose a valuable life,” ProAves mentioned. “Colombia misplaced a champion for nature and our beloved Yellow-eared Parrots misplaced their father and savior.”
Could he relaxation in peace.