raised goal

Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus)

Status: Endangered.

Wild Population: Fewer than 1000 individuals.

Where found:
A.a. ambiguus: Caribbean lowlands of E Honduras to NW Colombia.
A.a. guayaquilensis: W Ecuador, Esmeraldas; smaller numbers in the Cordillera de Chongon-Colonche, Guayas.

Once prevalent throughout the entire Caribbean, Great Green Macaw populations have declined alarmingly in recent years due to poaching and deforestation, in particular the cutting of Mountain Almond trees. BirdLife International states that over the past 50 years global populations have been reduced by half. A census conducted in the Cordillera de Chongon Colonche and Esmeraldas Province in Ecuador in 2010 found only 8 birds. Recent conservation efforts in Costa Rica have stabilized numbers with less than 300 birds and an estimated 25-35 breeding pairs remaining.


  • Unsustainable exploitation for the wild bird trade
  • Subspecies guayaquilensis reportedly shot as a crop-pest
  • Conversion of forest to oil-palm and banana plantations, causing the loss of the large Mountain Almond, vital to the macaws
  • In its South American range, the colonization and development of more remote areas are progressing through the rapid expansion of the road network. This has increased the impact of logging, agriculture, illegal coca plantations, gold mining and hunting
  • Illegal trapping for in-country trade, food and feathers


© Steve Milpacher © Allan Taylor - Ara Project © Fundación Ecológica Rescate Jambelí © Fundación Ecológica Rescate Jambelí © Chris Castles - Ara Project © Fundación Ecológica Rescate Jambelí © Fundación Ecológica Rescate Jambelí © Fundación Ecológica Rescate Jambelí © Fundación Ecológica Rescate Jambelí © ProForest Foundation © ProForest Foundation © ProForest Foundation © ProForest Foundation © Steve Milpacher © Allan Taylor - Ara Project © Steve Milpacher © Fundación Ecológica Rescate Jambelí © Steve Milpacher © Allan Taylor - Ara Project © World Parrot Trust © Allan Taylor - Ara Project © Allan Taylor - Ara Project © Allan Taylor - Ara Project

Conservation Actions:
Starting in the mid 1990s the World Parrot Trust provided support for Oliver Chassot and his team working on a multi-faceted, science-based, conservation project intended to protect unique lowland Atlantic forest in Costa Rica to benefit Great Green Macaws.

More recently, the WPT partnered with ARA Project in Costa Rica, and Fundación ProBosque (Pro-Forest Foundation) and Fundación Ecológica Rescate Jambelí in Ecuador to help increase Great Green Macaw populations through captive breeding, rescue and release, and reforestation efforts.

The ARA Project breeds macaws for release into the wild at their breeding centre in Rio Segundo de Alajuela. Their first-ever release of Great Greens was in August of 2011, with a second release occuring in 2012. These 15 birds are the first of their kind to be bred and raised specifically for release into protected areas.

The Pro-Forest Foundation began its Great Green Conservation Program in 1993 and has continued in its various phases until the present. Their work has focused on locating and protecting active nest sites to prevent nest robbing of chicks for the national pet trade, protection of macaws and other wildlife species through anti-poaching patrols by park guards, and habitat restoration with native tree species used as both food and nesting trees for macaws. Recently with Fundacion Jambeli a reintroduction program was begun to help bolster the wild population. They have also worked extensively in environmental education programs in local communities with both school kids and honorary park wardens.

Fundación Ecológica Rescate Jambelí is an organization that works to protect the environment and biodiversity by promoting the conservation of the flora and fauna of Ecuador. Emphasis is placed on species threatened by habitat destruction and the illegal trafficking of wildlife.

Future Actions:
Efforts may include activities such as:

  • Aiding in confiscation of Great Green Macaws from wildlife trade
  • Rescuing and rehabilitating confiscated birds
  • Encouraging captive reproduction of the species
  • Releasing birds to the wild to supplement wild populations
  • Assisting with habitat restoration efforts

Supporting organizations and partners:
Current and past collaborators include: the ARA Project, Pro-Forest Foundation, Fundación Ecológica Rescate Jambelí, Natural Encounters Conservation Fund, Paradise Park, Macaw Landing Foundation, HARI, Tracy Aviary, Zoo de Doue, In Defense of Animals (IDA), Kilverstone Trust, Shared Earth Foundation, Lynn Chase Wildlife Foundation, Adelaide Zoo, In Defense of Animals.

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