A Mexican official has slammed the practice of killing hummingbirds for love spells on Valentine’s Day as a danger to the environment.
Mexican Institute of Fauna Flora and Social Sustainability (IMFFSS) president Juan Jorge Aviles spoke with the newspaper Infobae about the bizarre practice in a report yesterday (14 February). (https://bit.ly/3pnrXkQ)
The report said thousands of hummingbirds are seized by the police every year which are intended to be sacrificed for love spells in which the person performing it hopes to gain or keep someone’s affection.
The practice has been widely criticised, partly for the animal abuse aspect but also because the hummingbird is a keystone species as it helps create the conditions that lead to the region’s lustrous biodiversity.
Aviles said: “The hummingbird in America and Mexico is an animal that requires a lot of care because they are pollinators and responsible for the current biological biodiversity.
“Without them, just like in the case with bees, a lot of the fauna and flora that we currently have in our region would not exist.”
Aviles explained that love spells, locally known as ‘amarres’, require the use of a hummingbird, dead or alive, a crucifix, and a picture of the person whose affection the person seeks. The picture is strung around the bird and left at the altar.
The person performing the ritual then recites a prayer known as ‘La Chuparrosa’ (‘The Rosesucker’) before it is finalised.
Aviles said: “You have to say a prayer explaining you recognise the importance of the hummingbird in biodiversity because it is responsible for feeding on nectar, so you ask that the same nectar has the ability to reach the person you love, touch their soul and gain their affection.”
The strange ritual, which is common on Valentine’s Day, comes from an ancient Aztec legend which tells the story of two people named Huitzilin and Xochitl who fell madly in love but were separated when Huitzilin went off to war.
He died in battle which left Xochitl begging the God of the Sun ‘Tonatiuh’ to return him to her. Moved by her pain, Tonatiuh transformed her into a Mexican marigold which did not bloom until it was visited by the hummingbird Huitzilin had been turned into.
However, Aviles said their ancestors did not perform the rituals as they preferred keeping animals alive and officials have even released posters criticising the practice.
Capturing or killing hummingbirds in Mexico is strictly prohibited with around four different species living in the capital Mexico City which are endangered due to urbanisation, lack of plants to pollinate, and the use of chemicals on plants.
The birds are also very difficult to be kept in captivity due to their elevated metabolisms as they can flap their wings 80 to 200 times per second and can have a heart rate of 200bpm.
Aviles said performing the love spells is a crime which promotes violence and threatens the region’s rich biodiversity.
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Story By: Juan Mayes, Sub-Editor: Joana Mihajlovska, Agency: Newsflash
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