The Fight for Guatemala’s Endangered Macaws

May 10, 2012

After last year’s successful scarlet macaw nesting season in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, which produced a bumper crop of 29 new fledglings, WCS conservationists like Melvin Merida, a field veterinarian, are hoping to continue the upward trend for the critically endangered parrots.

In the forests of Guatemala, conservationists from WCS’s Guatemala Program and other groups have been working to save one of the country’s most iconic creatures, the critically endangered scarlet macaw. The Maya Biosphere Reserve is home to nearly the entire macaw population of Guatemala, a total of just 300 birds. Habitat destruction and poaching for the pet trade are largely to blame.

Last year, WCS reported a major conservation victory for the birds: a bumper crop of fledglings that have now taken flight. The success came as a testament to the monitoring program focused on helping weak and at-risk chicks—some of which were removed from tree cavity nests and hand-reared in a jungle hospital—with guidance from the Bronx Zoo’s Department of Ornithology and veterinarians from the Global Health Program. The rehabilitated chicks were then fostered back in nests with chicks of the same age, a procedure that greatly increased the chances of survival for these rare birds.

Watch the WCS macaw conservationists at work in the Maya Biosphere Reserve in this video from Reuters >>

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