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Blue-throated Macaw

 (Ara glaucogularis)
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© Steve Milpacher

Project Status: Active | 2002 - Current


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.

View research

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

  • Managing wild populations by monitoring breeding pairs, and protecting nests and nestlings
  • Aiding breeding by installing artificial nest boxes and enhancing natural cavities
  • Supplemental feeding/medicating nestlings when necessary
  • Conducting habitat surveys and foraging and behaviour studies
  • 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
  • Distributing education programs in the field, in schools and villages

In addition, a food availability study assessing fruiting and flowering times for the macaws' preferred foods will be conducted to better plan management of habitat. Researchers have also begun to survey the population, determining numbers of wild pairs, juveniles and non-paired single birds, and use telemetry to monitor activity patterns of the birds.

With your help we can complete these important tasks to better understand the species, and continue to deliver effective solutions to further their conservation.


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IUCN/CITES Status: Critically Endangered / Appendix I

Wild population: 110-130 known individuals

Where found: Occurs only in the seasonally flooded savannahs in Llanos de Mojos in N 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.


  • 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 C 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 ripe and nearly ripe fruit, and also Motacu palm fruits, seeds and leaves.

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