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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 March 2005, 06:30 GMT
Palm Sunday plan to save parrots
The Roman Catholic Church and activists have joined forces in an initiative for Palm Sunday celebrations - to save a unique species of parrot in Colombia.

Only about 540 yellow-eared parrots are thought to survive, living in wax palms on the slopes of the Andes.

For decades fronds from the trees have been cut for Palm Sunday services, which mark Jesus' entry into Jerusalem before his betrayal and crucifixion.

Now the church is urging worshippers to use the leaves of another species.

It is handing out thousands of seedlings to promote the cultivation of other palms.

A top Colombian cleric backed the moves.

"We have a slogan: God pardons always, man pardons sometimes, but nature never does," Monsignor Fabian Marulanda told the Associated Press.

"Every abuse of nature you pay for, sooner or later," he added.

But it is not clear how many Colombians will stop using wax palm fronds.

"We cannot expect that such a strongly-held tradition will change overnight," campaign organiser Luz Mery Cortes said.

"But if we don't do something, the wax palm and the yellow-eared parrot will disappear from the planet."

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