27 Dec 2014

Ecuador: Merazonia Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre

From The Weekend, 11:32 am on 27 December 2014

Malcolm the blue and gold macaw
Malcolm, the blue and gold macaw.

Like New Zealand, Ecuador in South America is home to unique endemic species which, on the world market, attract prices high enough to encourage animal smuggling.

That's not the only threat to species though. Some backpackers lure travellers with promises of close encounters with rare animals in cages. Locals also contribute to the problem when they capture or buy animals for pets, which come to outgrow their homes or patience.

The Ecuadorian government entrusts these animals to only a handful of centres – one of the most respected Merazonia Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in the deep south near the Amazonian town of Mera. Lynn Freeman speaks to Dutch journalist Frank Weijand who helped set up the centre a decade ago, and is still there, trying to help as many animals as possible return to the wild.

Gallery: Merazonia