Good news: Refuge for last blue-throated macaws doubles in size in Bolivia

Good news: Refuge for last blue-throated macaws doubles in size in Bolivia

A reserve that is home to the world’s largest population of the critically endangered blue-throated macaw (Ara glaucogularis) has been more than doubled in size, reports the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), a group that helped fund the expansion.

Barba Azul Nature Reserve now protects 11,000 hectares (27,180 acres) of savanna in Bolivia’s Beni wetlands after a coalition of groups, foundations, and agencies raised enough money to buy 6,000 ha (14,820 acres) of additional land. The new protected areas include seasonally flooded savanna and islands of tropical forest, which serve as critical foraging habitat for the blue-throated macaw, which is one of the planet’s rarest parrot species.

0102 Ara glaucogularis
Blue-throated macaw (Ara glaucogularis). Photo by Daniel Alarcon, Asociación Armonía. Bennett Hennessey, Executive Director of Asociación Armonía, the Bolivian partner of ABC, says that Barba Azul’s expansion was made possible by a coordinated effort between organizations.

Nearly 100 blue-throated macaws have been recorded in Barba Azul on occasion, according to ABC, meaning that more than half the world’s surviving population of 100-150 birds may be found in the reserve at any given time. The species, which is most endangered by habitat loss and the pet trade, is now the target of a conservation program that involves protecting habitat and building artificial breeding sites like nest boxes.

The Barba Azul extension protects more than 20 small isolated forest islands (including those shown above) which are preferred nesting and roosting sites for the Blue-throated Macaw.

“Conservation actions of this magnitude for small organizations in poor countries are only possible with outside help. Doubling the size of the Barba Azul Nature Reserve is an excellent example of conservation groups combining their effort to achieve a massive conservation product,” he said, noting that the ABC, Patricia and David Davidson, International Conservation Fund of Canada, IUCN NL / SPN, Loro Parque Fundación, Rainforest Trust, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act Grants Program, Robert Wilson Charitable Trust, and World Land Trust all provided support.

Barba Azul also serves as habitat for a number of other animals, including 250 species of birds and 27 medium and large mammals.

CITATION: American Bird Conservancy. Protected Habitat Doubles for Magnificent and Endangered Blue-throated Macaw January 2, 2014.

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