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Sam Williams, PhD

Sam Williams PhD leads efforts at the Macaw Recovery Network (previously The Ara Project) in Costa Rica. His work now brings together many of his earlier experiences and many new skills he never thought he’d need! 

Sam started keeping parakeets and parrots as a boy growing up in Yorkshire, England. At 16, Sam was already breeding Amazon parrots, his aviaries consuming nearly half his family’s garden. At that same young age, Sam’s love of parrots led him to the fortunate opportunity to spend two months working with the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation and the wild Echo Parakeets, where he learned a great deal from Prof. Carl Jones and the other conservationists and was able to work with wild echo parakeets.

Two years later, in an ambitious fundraising effort, Sam managed to raise (GBP) £2,500 for the Echo Parakeets by riding his bicycle from the bottom of England to the top of Scotland. Soon after, Sam returned to Mauritius for a full breeding season, returning again four years later as part of his degree in ecology, obtained at Stirling, Scotland.

Macaws led Sam to Brazil, where he spent six months observing Lear’s Macaws. He later received support from the World Parrot Trust to research the Yellow-Shouldered Amazons on Bonaire. That grew into a 12 year involvement with the charismatic parrots. Sam completed his PhD on the factors limiting their population then he founded Echo to do something about those limits. First Echo tackled illegal trade and later secured $550,000 for habitat restoration. During the course of conservation efforts on the island (some of which Sam has contributed) the parrot’s numbers have tripled, increasing from around 350 to over 1050!   

Now Sam brings his immense energy, scientific expertise, good humor and a passion for conservation to the fight to save wild Macaws. In 2015 when he joined the project he began overhauling the captive breeding center using skills he’d gained in his youth, more recently he’s establishing field research on wild Great Green Macaws and established a conservationist training program. Sam loves to share his adventures through blogging and always intends to do more.