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Blue-throated Macaw

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.

History:
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.

Threats:

  • 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
Conservation actions:
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:

  • 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
To learn more about our efforts to save this species: Supporting organizations and partners:
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.

 

Blue-throated Macaw

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Blue-throated Macaw Project