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Blue-throated Macaw

 (Ara glaucogularis)
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© Steve Milpacher

Project Status: Active | 2002 - Current

Collaborators

Bolivian partners:
Dirección General de Biodiversidad y Áreas Protegidas; Centro de Investigación en Biodiversidad y Medioambiente (CIBIOMA); Instituto de Investigación de la Facultad de Ciencias Pecuarias (IIFCP); Facultades de Ingeniería Agronómica, Veterinaria y Zootecnia de la Universidad Autónoma del Beni José Ballivián; Secretaría de Medio Ambiente del Gobierno Departamental del Beni; Comité Interinstitucional para la conservación de la Paraba Barba Azul; Centro Ecoturístico el Tábano Campestre; Honorable Alcaldía Municipal de la Ciudad de Trinidad; Honorable Alcaldía Municipal del Municipio de Loreto; Honorable Alcaldía Municipal de Santa Rosa del Yacuma; Centro de Biodiversidad y Genética de la Universidad Mayor de San Simón, Dirección del Área Protegida Municipal Pampas del Yacuma; Dirección del Área Protegida PD ANMI Iténez; Federación de Ganaderos del Departamento del Beni (FEGABENI).

International partners:
Natural Encounters Conservation Fund, Paradise Park, Zoological Society of London, CONICET, Centro de Biodiversidad y Genética de la Universidad Mayor de San Simón, African Lion Safari, Instituto Multidiscipinario Sobre Ecosistemas y Desarrollo Sustentable, Estación Biológica de Doñana (CSIC), Zoo Knoxville, Keith Ewart Charitable Trust, The Rufford Small Grants Foundation, Idea Wild, The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, HUGO BOSS-BOSS Orange, Macaw Landing Foundation, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo, Wildlife Conservation Society, International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators (IAATE), Minnesota Zoo, Kilverstone Trust, Point Defiance Zoo, San Francisco Zoo, Parrot Society of LA, Zoomarine, Shared Earth Foundation, Keefe Family Foundation, Naples Zoo, Paignton Zoo and Environmental Park, and a number of private individuals.

Macaw on the edge of extinction

Although capture of the Blue-throated Macaw (Ara glaucogularis) for the pet trade ceased in the early 1990s, wild population numbers are still very low.

Progress and outcomes: Since 2001, the World Parrot Trust has worked with a growing number of partners on the conservation of the Blue-throated Macaw. Our work has focused mainly on protecting and maximizing the reproductive output of the remaining wild breeding pairs, as well as understanding the species’ ecology.

In over a decade of effort the Blue-throated Macaw Project has made significant strides in understanding the reproductive and recovery difficulties of this species. As of 2015, the project has had good success finding wild nests and protecting them from predators so that a higher percentage of young birds fledge. A conservation center is up and running to provide continuing education to surrounding villages and schools to boost support for the birds, and thousands of native plants have been cultivated in preparation for reforestation.

In 2016 an undocumented group of at least ten adults was discovered in the Municipal Protected Area of the Great Tectonic Lakes of Exaltación in Bolivia, by the project team and the Municipality of Exaltación. In early 2017 the WPT and local and international partners established the Gran Mojos reserve, a massive new protected area for the species. The 1.5M acre reserve protect 35% of the known wild population, and approximately 50% of the known breeding pairs. 

View research

Focus of future work: WPT will continue its decades-long efforts by:

  • Maximizing breeding success in the wild by finding new nests, protecting and monitoring known ones
  • Protecting and restoring important macaw habitat by planting and fencing palm islands frequented by the birds, protecting nest trees on private land, advocating for the formal protection of large tracts of habitat
  • Reducing the effects of trapping of wild birds by providing guidance, training and infrastructure for local authorities for confiscations
  • Increasing macaw populations through captive-breeding and reintroduction, and caring for wild chicks that fail to thrive
  • Promoting local stewardship of the macaws via educational and economic opportunities (such as sustainable tourism)

With your help we can complete these important tasks to better understand the species and further their conservation.

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IUCN/CITES Status: Critically Endangered / Appendix I

Wild population: 100-400 individuals

Where found: Occurs only in the seasonally flooded savannahs and elevated palm 'islands' in Llanos de Moxos in NC Bolivia, being concentrated east of the upper Río Mamoré, Beni.

History: The Blue-throated Macaw is a Bolivian species that has become increasingly endangered in recent times even though, according to locals, the wild population prior to the 1980s was thought to number 500-1000 individuals. By the end of the decade the birds had all but disappeared. In 1992 they were rediscovered, and 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.

Although most trapping for the pet trade ended over a decade ago, the species remains in a precarious state as only 10-15 breeding pairs are known to exist in the wild. Crucially, these pairs are scattered across an expansive landscape. The successful recruitment of new breeding pairs into the population appears to be rare and may be the chief factor limiting the recovery of the species.

Threats:

  • Intensive harvesting for the pet trade, between the late 1970s and early 1990's
  • Disappearance of nest trees due to 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
  • Botfly infestation, which can kill very young chicks (~5 days)

Ecology: This macaw ranges in a small area in the Beni department in NC Bolivia. It is found in flooded areas, such as savannas, palm groves and species-poor tropical forest in wet lowlands, up to 300m (984 ft). Its diet includes mainly Motacú palm fruits, seeds and leaves.

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