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On January 8, Gonzalo “Gonza” Cardona Molina was reported missing. His absence came following his completion of a national census of the yellow-eared parrot and of the Fuertes’ indigo-winged parrot. The 55-year-old worked as the coordinator for the Reserva Loros Aninos at Fundación ProAves since its founding in 1998.

Molina dedicated 20 years of his life to preserving the yellow-eared parrot from extinction by objecting to the hunting of the species and the destruction of the forests where the birds reside.

His bravery and dedication to his work often put him in opposition to powerful and dangerous forces who wished to utilize the species and their habitat for financial gain. Undeterred, Molina faced guerrilla groups and military alike and forged ahead in his conservation pursuits.

During his final national census (which he completed in December 2020) Molina counted 2,895 yellow-eared and blue-crowned parrots. When Molina first began his endeavors to preserve the species it was considered critically endangered. However, thanks to his determination their status changed to endangered when more than 1,000 birds were accounted for in 2010. Molina also ensured the protection of the wax palm, a rare type of tree that the parrots rely on for food and nesting.

Molina’s death is confirmed to be an assassination by an unknown gang in Colombia. Gonzalo Molina is a martyr of the conservation movement, and his commitment to preservation will not soon be forgotten.

The Fundación ProAves webpage says of Molina that:

Translation: “One of the biggest challenges for Gonzalo has been working with the community, since sometimes people have not received him as he expected, but he has learned to treat them and continue fighting for conservation.”

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