Status: Critically Endangered.
Wild population: 110-130 known individuals.
Where found: Occurs only in the seasonally flooded savannahs in Llanos de Mojos in northern Bolivia, being concentrated east of the upper Río Mamoré, Beni.
According to locals the wild population of the Blue-throated Macaw in the 1980s was thought to number 500-1000 individuals. Then, by the end of the decade the birds had all but disappeared. In 1992 they were rediscovered, but within a few short years the birds were caught to near-extinction by trappers for the pet trade, leaving a small population scattered over a wide area of habitat. The potential of the wild-bird trade to quickly destroy the last remaining wild population of Blue-throated Macaws is a serious issue. Although trapping ceased later in the 1990s, the wild population remains low, with estimates of between 110-130 individuals. The trend over the past three generations has been negative and declines of over 80% are suspected.
- Intensive harvesting of these birds, which occurred in the late 1970s through early 1990s
- Nest trees which have disappeared because of burning and clearing for farming
- Nest failure from predation by other animals
- Extreme weather patterns (flooding and drought) causing the loss of eggs and chicks in nest cavities
- Parasitic botflies laying eggs on young macaws, their larvae burrowing under the skin. Very young chicks (~5 days) can die from botfly infestation
- Brood reduction, a common result of the normal process of hatching in parrots, which results in the loss of the youngest chick or chicks in a clutch
Since 2002, the focus of WPT's fieldwork has been to better understand the species’ ecology and to develop strategies to aid its long-term survival. The project, currently led by Dr. Igor Berkunsky, is a complex conservation programme: it combines population surveys and searches for additional Blue-throated Macaw sites with components of habitat investigation, direct protection of wild nests and outreach with local and national groups.
Current and future efforts include:
To learn more about our efforts to save this species:
- Managing wild populations by monitoring breeding pairs, protecting nests and nestlings
- Aiding breeding by installing artificial nest boxes
- Conducting habitat surveys to determine use by birds
- Determining wild bird movements using telemetry and satellite tracking
- Conducting genetic analyses of captive and wild populations
- Identifying and eliminating ongoing threats affecting the wild populations
- Releasing captive raised birds into areas where extinction has occurred
- Building a captive breeding program for the birds in Bolivia
- Investigating habitat management and restoration techniques
- Discouraging use of parrot feathers for traditional ceremonies
Supporting organizations and partners:
- Foraging Fundamentals: Blue-throated Macaw Update | PsittaScene Volume 25.3, Autumn 2013
- Dream Come True | PsittaScene Vol. 25.2, May 2013
- Nuts and Bolts | PsittaScene Vol. 25.2, May 2013
- A Wild Idea | PsittaScene Vol. 25.2, May 2013
- Reintroduction Considerations | PsittaScene Vol. 25.2, May 2013
- 10 Years: Blue-throated Macaw Conservation | PsittaScene Volume 24.3, August 2012
- Black Market Blue-throats | PsittaScene Volume 23.2, May 2011
- Mother of Invention | PsittaScene - May 2010 »
- Only Unico | PsittaScene - May 2009 »
- To Fly or To Fall | PsittaScene - May 2008 »
- New Species New Challenges | PsittaScene - May 2008 »
- Beginner's Luck | PsittaScene - May 2008 »
- A Welcomed Visitor | PsittaScene - May 2008 »
- PsittaScene Volume 19, Number 4; Nov 2007; pages 16-17
- PsittaScene Volume 19, Number 2; May 2007; pages 14-17
- PsittaScene Volume 18, Number 2; May 2006; page 9
- PsittaScene Volume 18, Number 1; February 2006; pages 4-8
- PsittaScene Volume 17, Number 3; August 2005; page 14
- PsittaScene Volume 14, Number 1; February 2002; pages 2-3
- PsittaScene Volume 13, Number 4; November 2001; pages 6-5
- PsittaScene Volume 9, Number 2; May 1997; pages 10-11
- PsittaScene Volume 7, Number 4; November 1995; page 12
- PsittaScene Volume 6, Number 2; February 1994; page 3
- PsittaScene Volume 5, Number 4; November 1993; pages 4-5
Current and past collaborators include: the Fundación Noel Kempff Mercado, Keith Ewart Charitable Trust, The Rufford Small Grants Foundation, Natural Encounters Conservation Fund, Idea Wild, The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, Hugo BOSS-BOSS Orange, Conicet, Instituto Multidiscipinario Sobre Ecosistemas y Desarrollo Sustentable, Macaw Landing Foundation, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo, Wildlife Conservation Society, Paradise Park, IAATE, Minnesota Zoo, Kilverstone Trust, Point Defiance Zoo, San Francisco Zoo, Parrot Society of LA.