Tuesday 15 January 2008.
It is all to common place to see children carrying slingshots with the sole purpose of hunting birds. ProAves launched a campain against hunting birds across Colombia and delighted when over 330 children voluntariary handed slingshots and traps to ProAves staff.
With the aim to educate the next generation of Colombians in respecting nature, Fundación ProAves launched the national Slingshot Amnesty, operated from the mobile environmental education classroom, the Parrot Bus and supported by American Bird Conservancy, Fundación Loro Parque and Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund.
Girls and boys of Mompox (Bolívar) who gave up slingshots and a trap, and a small selection of the weapons voluntarily handed in by children.
The Amnesty has been a great success, with a total of 346 weapons used to hunt birds for sport handed in by children across Colombia. Weapons included 326 slingshots, 20 guns, and 5 traps voluntarily surrendered to ProAves staff in nine departments of Colombia in recent months. Many of the slingshots were highly refined and extremely lethal against birds.
In return for weapons, children received a package of environmental education materials including free membership and identification card for the ProAves youth group “Friends of the Birds”, and participated in environmental workshops given in the Parrot Bus. Many children handing over weapons commented on the specific number of birds killed by their weapon (often many dozens), giving graphic illustration to the prolific nature of hunting birds.
Children of Puerto Pinzón (Boyacá), Mompox (Bolívar) and Ocaña (Santander). In the middle, a boy hands in his slingshot to a member of the Environmental Police who accompanied the Parrot Bus in its visit to Mompox.
Sara Ines Lara, Executive Director of Fundación ProAves said “Children have demonstrated once again their amazing ability to respond to environmental education and understanding the message of respect for nature spread by the campaign, to children, families, and communities.”
Antonio Ruje, a student from Eduardo Umaña school in Bogotá, convinced his classmates to hand their slingshots over during a visit by the Parrot Bus stating “The birds wake you up in the morning with a beautiful song”.
“The campaign is extremely important in both promoting children’s respect for nature” declared the Environmental Education Director of ProAves, Luz Dary Barrera, “and also to avoid children growing up with weapons and killing, so inspiring a new generation of Colombian’s towards non-violence”.
This year, the municipalities of Mompox (department of Bolívar), Pueblo Viejo (Magdalena), Puerto Boyacá (Boyacá), Ocaña (Norte de Santander) and Barranquilla (Atlántico), where sites were most weapons where hand in. Other departments visited by the Parrot Bus were Antioquia, Córdoba, Cauca and Tolima.
The slingshots will be displayed at the ProAves head office in Bogotá to serve as an example to hundreds of children who wish to become friends of birds. “They will serve to show all Colombians that it is possible to do something for bird conservation, and that with simple measures such as the act of humility to stop using slingshots to kill birds, we can make an effective and immediate contribution to conservation”, said Johanna Villa, Parrot Bus Coordinator.
With the support of: