Signs Agreement with UNINI/ Firma Convenio con UNINI

Left: Dr. José Enrique Valentín Mercado, Rector of the International University Iberoamerican, UNINI

Center: Lirio Márquez D’Acunti, Executive Director of Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust

Right: Dr. María del Carmen Rivera Rivas, Dean of Student Affairs UNINI, representing the Iberoamerican University Foundation, FUNIBER

The three institutions signed an agreement to promote the exchange of researchers and promote the development of projects in Vieques by UNINI students to perform their theses and dissertations.

UNINI- Is the only via internet distance university accredited by the Council on Higher Education of Puerto Rico.

Versión en Español
Izquierda: Dr. José Enrique Valentín Mercado, Rector de la Universidad Internacional Iberoamericana, UNINI

Centro: Lirio Márquez D’Acunti, Directora Ejecutiva del Fideicomiso de Conservación e Historia de Vieques

Derecha: Dra. María del Carmen Rivera Rivas, Decana de Asuntos Estudiantiles de UNINI, en representación de la Fundación Universitaria Iberoamericana, FUNIBER

Las tres instituciones firmaron convenio para fomentar el intercambio de investigadores y promover el desarrollo de proyectos en Vieques por parte de estudiantes de UNINI para la realización de sus tesis y disertaciones.

UNINI – Es la única universidad a distancia via internet acreditada por el Consejo de Educación Superior de Puerto Rico.

Puerto Ferro Man Archeological Site

Archaeologist Luis Chanlatte, Center for Archaeological Investigation at UPR/Río Piedras, will be with us at the Puerto Ferro Man Archaeological Site this Saturday to speak about the cultural and scientific importance of the findings at this place. In 1991, Chanlatte and colleague, Arq. Yvonne Narganes, found the skeletal remains of a man who lived there around 4 thousand years ago!, making this one of the most important sites in this part of the Caribbean. Unfortunately, due to lack of interest by the Puerto Rican government, lack of funds locally and at UPR, this place is abandoned and under attack. The entrance to the site is in terrible conditions and is used as a clandestine dump.

Puerto Ferro Man Archeological Site

On two occasions this year, delinquents have vandalized with graffiti the giant rocks that define the place. Others enter with vehicles and pass over the area on the way to steal sand from a dry riverbed behind the complex of giant boulders. There is no security in the area nor is there any systematic maintenance. The Municipal Government has recently committed to help clean up the area, together with citizen brigades. For these reasons, we invite all Viequenses who value their culture and the historic resources like the Puerto Ferro Archaeological Site and the public in general to be at this magic space on Saturday, 10 September from 9am. We’ll do some clean up of trash and vegetation in the area. Also, we’ll hand out informational sheets on the road that passes by the entrance, in coordination with the Police and the Police Athletic League.

In addition to Chanlatte, representatives from the Police and Natural Resources will explain the laws that protect the place and that need help from a community on watch to educate neighbors and family and punish those who break the law by throwing trash or in other ways damage this treasure from Viequense ancestors. See you on Saturday from 9am to 12 pm… please bring water, tools, pick ups, plastic bags, gloves, trimmers, machetes, etc…. we’ll work from 9 to 10.30 then participate in an ‘in situ class’ about one of the most important cultural, archaeological and spiritual places in this part of the world.

Participating in this invitation are: Fort Count Mirasol Museum/Institute of Puerto Rican Culture; Vieques Municipal Administration; Vieques Conservation and Historical Trust; Vieques Chamber of Commerce; Puerto Rico and Municipal Police; citizens.

Endangered Puerto Rican parrot on the rise

SATURDAY JUN 25, 2011 13:08 ET

Endangered Puerto Rican parrot on the rise


Deep amid the dense greenery of a rain forest, down an unmarked road, behind a barbed wire fence in a low-slung compound monitored by security cameras, government scientists are nursing a special patient back to health.

The patient is on pain medication, but lucid enough to ruffle his emerald green feathers and fill the room with angry squawks when a biologist removes him from an incubator. It is a Puerto Rican parrot with a broken leg, a serious injury for one of the world’s most endangered bird species.

In the past, the prognosis would have been grim. “That probably would have been a dead bird,” said Jafet Velez, a biologist who manages the Puerto Rican parrot breeding center in the El Yunque National Forest, one of two such facilities on the island.

The injured bird, a 2-month-old known only as Number 111405, faces an extended stay in the avian equivalent of intensive care and may need surgery. But it is likely to survive. The outlook is increasingly positive as well for the entire species, which has hovered near extinction for decades, with slightly more than a dozen left in the wild at one point.

“Everything is moving in a positive direction,” said Tom White, a Fish and Wildlife biologist who helps manage the island’s wild parrot populations.

It is difficult to pinpoint the number of birds because they are elusive and not all have functioning radio collars. But White said there are 20-25 in El Yunque, east of San Juan, and 40-70 in Rio Abajo Nature Preserve in western Puerto Rico.

Both groups have done well enough that Fish and Wildlife and its partner, Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural Resources, are looking to create additional wild populations, with the next one possibly in the U.S. territory’s rugged, sparsely populated western Maricao region. The next release of birds from captivity is scheduled for December.

There are now about 150 birds each in the two captive breeding centers, in El Yunque and in Rio Abajo. Both breeding centers report a record year for new chicks, about 40 each.

Puerto Rican parrots are one of about 34 species of Amazon parrots found in the Americas. Amazona vittata are known for the bright red shock of feathers at their forehead, white rings around their eyes and the shimmering blue feathers under their wings, usually visible when they dart overhead.

The parrots, which grow to about a foot in length and mate for life, are secretive and considered exceptionally sensitive to any disturbance to their environment, which may be why their numbers plummeted in the wild.

In pre-colonial times, there were an estimated 1 million of the birds spread across Puerto Rico. Intensive agriculture, particularly the massive clearing of forests for sugar cane, coffee and citrus, and a series of devastating hurricanes destroyed most of their prime habitat. By the late 1960s, they had disappeared from the entire island, except a few dozen in El Yunque, a mountainous tropical rain forest east of San Juan. In 1975, a census found just 13 birds left in the wild.

The captive breeding program began in 1972, but there wasn’t much hope for a recovery.

“They thought the species is going to be extinct, so we need to keep in captivity a representation of what was a Puerto Rican parrot,” said Velez, who has worked for the program for 21 years. “But the species really showed resilience.”

The first chick was produced in captivity in 1979, but the program was slow to get off the ground. Throughout the 1980s and for much of the 1990s, biologists rarely had more than 10 hatch and never had more than that make it out of the nest, or fledge, he said.

But breeding efforts picked up as they learned more about the species and reduced turnover among biologists and technicians, which enabled them to become more skillful in handling the birds, Velez said. They made adjustments, like making sure to create distance between breeding cages as they realized some birds would not copulate because they were intimidated by the proximity of more aggressive males, a condition known as psychological castration.

They also developed better breeding techniques. Ricardo Valentin, who manages the Rio Abajo center, said they started noting significant progress when they started keeping adults and juveniles together in mixed cages in 2000. “Just like with humans, you can’t have a child raise itself,” he said.

The Fish and Wildlife center in El Yunque also benefited from a major upgrade. In 2007, a new captive breeding center and aviary was opened on a three-acre site at a cost of $2 million. The site is remote and under tight security to protect the birds from human disturbances but also possible theft, though there have been few known cases of someone taking a Puerto Rican parrot from the wild to sell on the black market.

With a budget of more than $1.5 million, the center has allowed the team to provide better care for injured birds such as Number 111405, who will only have to go to a sleek operating room in an adjacent room if he needs to have his broken leg repaired with surgery.

The new facility also features a hurricane room to protect the birds in case of storms.

Parrot program officials said they hope to have several wild populations that would be able to intermingle, something the Rio Abajo and El Yunque groups do not do now. But they don’t have a specific target number.

“Our basic philosophy is the more the better,” White said.

Celebran la Biodiversidad en El Yunque

Celebran la biodiversidad en El Yunque

La cotorra boricua fue la protagonista del evento familia

Por Ileana Delgado Castro /

“¡Es hermosa!”.

Esa fue una de las exclamaciones que más se escuchó ayer entre los visitantes que acudieron a ver la cotorra puertorriqueña que se mostró al público en una de las terrazas de El Portal Centro del Bosque Pluvial, en El Yunque.

Fue un evento único que se llevó a cabo ayer como parte de la celebración del Día Internacional de la Biodiversidad, proclamado por la ONU en el 2000, explicó el biólogo Víctor M. Cuevas Padró, coordinador de la actividad.

El biólogo destacó que, precisamente, la celebración va dirigida a crear conciencia en todos los países sobre la pérdida de biodiversidad en los bosques.

“La cotorra de Puerto Rico es un ave que hemos perdido en nuestros bosques y representa claramente la pérdida de biodiversidad en la Isla. También es símbolo del esfuerzo que hemos hecho para salvarla”, indicó Cuevas.

Actualmente, entre las cuatro poblaciones de cotorras, hay más de 300 en cautiverio, agregó Ricardo Valentín, biólogo a cargo del aviario del Departamento de Recursos Naturales.

“En estado salvaje tenemos 70 cotorras. Pero considerando que en la década de 1970 solo había 13, el aumento ha sido significativo”, agregó Valentín.

especies en peligro

Ambos biólogos resaltaron la importancia de concienciar al pueblo sobre el empobrecimiento de la biodiversidad, lo que constituye uno de los aspectos más preocupantes de la crisis ecológica mundial. Se estima que entre 50 y 300 especies se extinguen diariamente en el mundo. Una elevada tasa que, según alertan los expertos, conduce a una extinción masiva de animales y plantas en menos de 100 años. De hecho, en la última de las cinco grandes extinciones que se han producido, hace 65 millones de años, desaparecieron el 75% de las especies, incluidos los dinosaurios

Para Milagros Ramírez, de Carolina, fue una oportunidad única de ver por primera vez a la cotorra. “Nos enteramos de que la iban a traer y decidimos venir a verla. Así, si un día vemos a una, sabremos reconocerla”, agregó entusiasmada, mientras su hijo, Reynard Rohena, no se cansaba de tomarle fotos a la hermosa cotorra.

“Trabajo con turistas en una compañía privada y les hablo de la cotorra puertorriqueña, pero siempre he tenido que decirles que nunca la he visto. Así que para mí ha sido una gran oportunidad. Ahora sí les puedo hablar (a los turistas) a conciencia de que le vi las plumas realmente como son y no a través de una foto”, dijo Rohena, tras destacar que “es más linda de lo que había imaginado y de como se ve en las fotos”.

No era el único que miraba embelesado la exótica ave de hermoso plumaje verde. Christian Rosado, de 10 años, y su papá, Luis Raúl Rosado, también observaban encantados la cotorra, que ya se notaba nerviosa ante tantas miradas, comentarios y las luces de las cámaras. “Soy guía turístico y tengo un grupo aquí”, contó Rosado, quien no sabía que se celebraba el Día Internacional de la Biodiversidad. “Me entero ahora”, agregó entre risas.

Empero, la realidad es que este día se celebró mundialmente el pasado 22 de mayo. Pero debido a las intensas lluvias de ese fin de semana, dijo Cuevas, el evento se cambió para ayer.

el año de los bosques

Este año, la actividad también celebra el Año Internacional de los Bosques, declarado por la ONU con el fin de educar a la comunidad mundial acerca del valor de los bosques y el costo social, económico y ambiental que tiene su pérdida.

La diversidad biológica forestal se refiere a todas las formas de vida en los bosques, incluyendo árboles, plantas, animales, hongos y microorganismos, y sus roles en la naturaleza.