Our efforts to protect parrots in captivity in the U.S. were enhanced by the opportunity to help protect the freedom of those that remain in the wild in Guyana. A single, private donation to Foster Parrots, Ltd. in 2004 funded the construction of Maipaima Eco-Lodge, deep in the forest of Nappi Village at the foot of the Kanuku Mountains in Southern Guyana.
Conservation efforts cannot be successful without the involvement of indigenous people and unless we embrace the traditional culture of the people whose heritage is tied to the forests, the rivers and the animals. Eco-tourism empowers Amerindian villages in Guyana to take control of their economic destiny and to participate in shaping the ecologic future of their country. In Guyana, trapping wildlife for international pet and zoo markets was once one of the few economic opportunities available to indigenous people. Now eco-tourism provides tremendous incentive to protect native wildlife and preserve the stunning natural habitat of Guyana. Taking advantage of training programs offered at the Iwokrama Centre for Rain Forest Conservation, Amerindians are becoming forest guides, researchers and expert birders. Training in guest services is offered at Rockview in the village of Annai, and workers are finding employment opportunities as porters, in transportation and in cultural demonstrations and performances that transport us all to a simpler, more beautiful life.