23 May 2024

Residents of a small community, close to Suan Yai temple in Nonthaburi province, have lived happily with the bright green-feathered Alexandrine parakeets. They allow the birds to eat the fruits and crops they have planted, even though they are worth money.

One resident, Wantanee Sriyaphai, said she does not mind that the birds are eating fruit from her garden. “It’s okay if that makes them happy. I am too old to harvest it anyway,” she said.

Wantanee Sriyaphai, one resident in Suan Yai temple

The Alexandrine parakeets that Wantanee talks about live in Yang Na trees at the side of the temple.

These trees are one of their last habitats in Thailand and the residents here are serious about their conservation.

According to the Wild Animal Conservation and Protection Act of 2019, the parakeets are currently listed as ‘near threatened’ as their conservation status.

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Every day, the birds are allowed to feed freely in the residents’ fruit and vegetable gardens, even though the main purpose of the gardens is for human consumption.

Many residents grew up with these birds and have been familiar with them since they were young.

Their houses are underneath the Yang Na trees, in which the parakeets nest.

The residents witness the birds’ life cycle every year. They court each other, breed, and have baby birds, then their baby birds grow up and leave.

Wantanee told Thai PBS World that the parakeets sing a bit loudly in the morning, but she does not mind them, adding “They are especially loud in the morning when they feed on the fruit from our trees, but they are birds, it is their nature. I can sense that they are happy.”

The residents’ love for these parakeets means that they can happily coexist.

Meanwhile, Winai Pumyoo, 68, president of the Alexandrine Parakeets Conservation Club, accepts the truth about change, saying “Everything changes. Of course, there are some impacts and I don’t think we can blame them for that. Humans need accommodation too. We have to buy houses. For this reason, the parakeets lose their food sources.”

Winai Pumyoo, president of the Alexandrine Parakeets Conservation Club

The temple is about 40 minutes by car from central Bangkok. This area has become one of the last habitats for the parakeets, as some areas in the province that were fruit farms have been developed into houses and towns.

In the past 5 years, the housing estate has completely changed the surrounding area. This area of the Suan Yai Temple community became the only small green area left. Chaiwat Montechaiwitwat, an environmental activist, said that this is why the parakeets don’t go anywhere else, as they can find food here.

Chaiwat Montechaiwitwat, an environmental activist

He added that cutting down or pruning big trees in cities, such as Gurjan or Yang Na trees, means destroying many animals’ accommodation, not only the parakeets’.

He understands, however, that big trees in crowded areas could be dangerous, since they could fall.

“People here are so kind to all the animals, particularly to the parakeets,” said Chaiwat.

He shares stories of these birds and the community on his Facebook page and set up the Alexandrine Parakeets Conservation Club group on Facebook.

He works as a car mechanic at his garage and has a hobby of going to the temple to watch and monitor the birds almost every day.

He never tires of explaining about the birds to visitors, who learned about the birds on Facebook and came to the temple hoping to see them.

Cr. Chaiwat Montechaiwitwat

“My hobby at the temple started one day five years ago when I passed the temple and heard the birds singing. Then, I did some research on the birds and discovered that Alexandrine parakeets in this area are in need of conservation,” he explained.

Being an environmental activist for wildlife for 10 years, Chaiwat cooperated with the Suan Yai Temple community, and it was the beginning of the ‘Alexandrine Parakeets Conservation Club’ on Facebook.

Meanwhile Jirawat Singhanin, 69, vice president of the club, said, “Our stance is to conserve the community, inside and outside, and nature to survive the changes, whether they are from nature or society.”

Jirawat Singhanin, vice president of the club (left) and Winai Pumyoo, president of the club (right)

With the passion of all involved, the roles of the club are to be watchers, to prevent the parakeets from being caught by outsiders. Taking care of young parakeets is also part of their work.

The young parakeets often get injured when fall from their nests, since their wings are still weak, so the watchers in the community take them to the vet and care for them until they are healed.

Apart from creating a safe space for parakeets, Jirawat thinks it is also important to educate the younger generation.

“The lives of these birds, nature, and culture bind the community. If we don’t pass this on to the younger generation, then who will?” asks Jirawat.

About 30 parakeet chicks are expected to be born this year, and it is a good sign. With artificial nests and all the effort, Chaiwat and the community are hoping to see increasing numbers of parakeet chicks every year.

To watch the full video of Alexandrine parakeets live happily with Suan Yai temple community, click link below

By Warissara Sae-han, Thai PBS World