Natural Encounters, Inc., National Aviary
Red-fronted Macaw under severe pressure from human activities
The Red-fronted Macaw (Ara rubrogenys) has seen its population reduced through persecution, and habitat loss and degradation.
Project progress: WPT sent out a field team to learn more about the trade in wild-caught parrots and how it has affected the Red-fronted Macaw.
Outcomes: From 2002 to 2005, the World Parrot Trust's field team charged with studying the Red-fronted Macaw discovered that there is still substantial trapping of adults, poaching of nests, and a clear lack of enforcement of the Bolivian laws meant to protect this species.The 2004 breeding survey, led by Toa Kyle, found that only 20% of the 400 Red-fronted Macaws located appeared to be breeding, a low number. WPT has also worked closely with the government to improve the enforcement of anti-poaching laws, and has helped to develop an education program to help the local people better understand how unique these birds are to their region.
Wild population: 1000-4000
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.