The Quetzal and our Stand Against Climate Change

A myth that has been told for centuries states that resplendent quetzals that are caught and held in captivity will sicken and their vibrant colors will quickly become dull. The bird will then pluck its own feathers and die of a heart attack, as the bird cannot live any place where it is not free. Quetzals have represented freedom to the Tz’utujil people for centuries and served as symbols of resistance for many Maya groups during the time of the Spainish, who came to the country in the 1500s.

The resplendent quetzal

As specialized fruit eaters, quetzals enjoy a symbiotic relationship with the fruit trees. Quetzals eat fruits of the Lauraceae and other fruit trees, providing nutrients to the birds and the environment as they disperse the fruit trees’ seeds in their droppings. Taking into account the quetzals’ net positive role in the ecosystem as seed dispersers, which affects the regeneration of many species of trees, deforestation and habitat destruction proves doubly negative for quetzals and the forests they inhabit. Deforestation also threatens the livelihoods of birds and other animals that eat fruit but don’t inhabit as much land as the quetzal. These animals rely heavily on quetzals as seed dispersers.

We don't want to see quetzals go. Nor do we want to see the pristine primary forests where quetzals reside disappear. It is necessary to mitigate deforestation, especially considering that Guatemala is one of the 10 countries most susceptible to climate change according to the World Food Programme. But it's a tough battle. Families need firewood and that wood is being cut, whether we like it or not, from primary forests on the volcanoes above Santiago Atitlán. The best we could do is try to reduce firewood use. And we're doing that well, but we need your help. The more money we raise, the more stoves we could install and maintain, and the more we could empower ourselves and community members to battle against climate change.

Please donate at the following link so we could actively defend the environment and provide community members with more efficient stoves: Donate Now!

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