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Red-fronted Macaw Project

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Background

The red-fronted macaw is unique to a small area on the eastern slope of the Andes in south-central Bolivia. The population numbers of this species are declining throughout its range.

According to researchers, the red-fronted macaw's global population size is estimated at fewer than 1000 individuals.  The decline in the red-fronted macaw's numbers and its small remaining population in the wild has caused the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to list the red-fronted macaw as Endangered.

The principal threats to the red-fronted macaw are illegal trapping for the pet trade and habitat loss to agriculture and overgrazing by goats. 

Red-fronted Macaw Project members clearly saw that they would have to work closely with local people to change attitudes about the birds and develop alternative sources of income. 

RZSS has supported this project since 2005 by providing funding to a non-profit Bolivian NGO called Armonía.  They specialise in bird conservation, and in enabling local communities to identify alternative income sources.

The core project in this instance is eco-tourism.  Having identified a potential income-generator, the project team built a tourist lodge.  The project also secured a 50 hectare site that includes the all-important San Carlos cliff, where the birds breed. 

Progress and Achievements

In 2008, some of the progress and achievements of this project included:

  • 124 acre red-fronted macaw Reserve was created to protect the San Carlos nesting cliffs and native vegetation that is important foraging habitat not only for the Red-fronted Macaw but also for honey bees.
     
  • Construction of accommodations for an additional eight guests, a larger kitchen and quarters for support personnel increased significantly the capacity and earning potential of the red-fronted macaw Ecolodge.
     
  • 18 community members capable of managing honey production. 92 kilos of honey were produced in 2008; nearly double production in 2007.
     
  • Environmental education activities with more than 460 students and 30 teachers.
  • Dissemination of information on the Red-fronted Macaw and Armonía's conservation program in three major Bolivian newspapers and the in-flight magazine of a nation airline.
     
  • Launch of a national campaign against illegal wild bird trade: a traveling exhibit in five major cities was visited by more than 2600 people; media campaign reached approximately 2,800,000 people or 33% of the population.
     
  • Population and breeding bird census at 28 sites
     
  • Monitoring of foraging behavior during the non-breeding season.
     
  • Radio tracking of five macaws.

 You can help

If you would like to help support the conservation and research work being done by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, please donate.