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Blue-throated Macaw

 (Ara glaucogularis)
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© Steve Wilson | Wikimedia Commons

Project Status: Active | 2002 - Current

Collaborators/Funders

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.

Macaws on the edge of extinction

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

Progress and outcomes: Since 2002, the World Parrot Trust has led the Blue-throated Macaw Program, which has made significant strides in understanding the birds' breeding and recovery issues. Recent research has found that predation (30%) and poaching (18%) are the leading causes of nest failure.

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 team and the Municipality of Exaltación. In early 2017 the WPT helped local and international partners establish the Gran Mojos reserve, a massive new protected area for the macaws and other species. The 1.5M acre reserve holds 35% of the known wild population and approximately 50% of the known breeding pairs. In November of 2018, the Interpretation Center for the Protected Area opened in Loreto, a village in the reserve. The facility is a continuing education center for visitors, and will house groups of researchers and professionals who contribute to the conservation of the wildlife in the Area. Recently, with training provided by partner Parrots Conservation Bolivia (CLB), the Blue-throated team and villagers installed 27 nest boxes on four private properties inside the Protected Area. The team is also monitoring the boxes, as well as surveying the population there.

View research

Focus of future work:

  • Maximizing breeding success in the wild by protecting known nests and installing artifical boxes
  • Restoring important macaw habitat by planting and fencing palm islands, protecting nest trees on private land, and supporting protection of large tracts of habitat
  • Reducing the effects of trapping of wild birds by providing guidance, training and infrastructure for local authorities
  • Increasing macaw populations through captive-breeding and reintroduction, and caring for wild chicks which fail to thrive
  • Promoting local stewardship of the macaws via educational and sustainable tourism
  • Conducting genetic analyses of captive and wild populations

With your help, we can ensure the survival of the species.

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IUCN/CITES Status: Critically Endangered / Appendix I

Wild population: In the low hundreds.

Where found: Occurs only in the seasonally flooded savannahs and elevated palm 'islands' in Llanos de Mojos in NC Bolivia, being concentrated east of the upper Río Mamoré, Beni. A smaller population exists in the Municipal Protected Area of the Great Tectonic Lakes of Exaltación.

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. 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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