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Red-fronted Macaw

 (Ara rubrogenys)
Click photo to visit gallery

© Ron Hoff

Project Status: Active | 2002 - 2005, 2017- current


Natural Encounters, Inc., National Aviary

Red-fronted Macaw under severe pressure from human activities

The Red-fronted Macaw (Ara rubrogenys) has seen its population devastated through persecution, habitat loss and trapping.

Project progress: In 2002, the WPT began investigating how trade affected the Red-fronted Macaw. New efforts to understand broader threats began in 2017.

Outcomes: From 2002 to 2005, the World Parrot Trust's field team discovered at the time that there was still trapping of adults, poaching of nests, and a lack of enforcement of the Bolivian laws meant to protect the species. WPT and its partners have worked closely with the government to improve enforcement and have implemented an education program to help local people better understand how unique these birds are to their region, as local trapping still occurs.

In 2017 the WPT began the Red-fronted Macaw Program. In the first year, the team started work on a pilot project in the communities of Anamal and Las Juntas to explore more of the threats to these birds. A plan in development will be used in surrounding communities that have high-density breeding cliffs the macaws frequent, and/or where farmers need help protecting their crops from birds looking for food during the dry season.

In the future, the team aims to confirm and map abundance of birds among known breeding cliff-sites and non-breeding roost sites, maximize breeding successes in wild nests, protect and restore important habitat, find ways to deter trapping and promote educational programs and outreach efforts. Plans are afoot to quantify levels of crop loss in fields due to parrots and the best way to compensate affected communities. In progress as well are plans to support ecotourist and bird-watching activities to bring much-needed income to the region’s poorest families.

IUCN/CITES Status: Critically Endangered / Appendix I

Wild population: About 600

Where found: Restricted to small area on E Andean slope of C and S Bolivia.

History: The Red-fronted Macaw, Ara rubrogenys, is found mainly in the valleys of the Ríos Grande, Mizque, Caine and Pilcomayo but populations are decreasing, with numbers as few as 1,000 in 1991 (Clarke and Duran Patiño 1991). By 2007 it was found that there were fewer than 500 breeding pairs, counted in a number of nesting colonies, plus additional juveniles.  (S. K. Herzog in litt. 2007).  A survey conducted in 2011 attempted to cover the species’ entire range.  In the process the team located 130 pairs and 34-35 occupied nesting sites in cliffs, as well as a small population breeding in palms (A. Rojas, F. Hiraldo and J. L. Tella in litt. 2012).


  • A 40% reduction in natural vegetation in the species’ environment
  • Degradation of habitat to thorn and cactus
  • Harvest of food trees for fuel and charcoal
  • Trapping for the wildlife trade
  • Persecution as crop pests
  • Possible threat from pesticides applied to crops

Ecology: Red-fronted Macaws are found in xerophilous thorny scrub with cacti, scattered trees and shrubs, and also steep-sided, undisturbed riverside cliffs for nesting and roosting.  Birds feed on seeds and fruits but this is often scarce so they also feed on crop plants such as maize and groundnuts.

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