Ara project has released 45 Great-green Macaws in the last five years

November 18th, 2016 | by Jan Potucek
Ara project has released 45 Great-green Macaws in the last five years
Conservation projects
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Very successful conservation organization Ara Project which is focused on breeding and releasing of Great-green Macaws (Ara ambiguus) has increased the wild population on 350 individuals. Since 2011, when the Ara Project started with conservation activities, they have released 45 birds from which 35 survived. Administrator of the rescue station, Duaro Mayorga, said this to daily El Diario.  The station is found in natural reserve Manzanillo, region Limón in south of Costa Rica.

„50 years ago the Great-green Macaw became extinct. Now we try to put it back,“ said Mayorga.

There is last thousand of Great-green Macaws in the wild

In the whole Latin America the last thousand individuals is found. More than a third of the total population occurs in Costa Rica. The mentioned reserve Manzanillo is located in the center of area which is suitable for this species. However, parrots have not been seen there for many years. Therefore, babies raised in this station can be released to local forest. Just at the beginning of Ara Project existence, 150 Great-green Macaws were saved from smugglers and became a base of the breeding project.

The organization was established in 2009 by american ornithologists Margot and Richard Frisius. Besides breeding and reintroduction of this parrot, the project covers also protection of the Mountain Almendro tree which is the basic source for the Great-green Macaw. „It forms about 80% of the whole diet. We have planted 60 hectares with this tree so large harvest can be expected,“ said Mayorga. It is so important to introduce captive bred Great-green macaws to this diet at early age.

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Parrots fly above the tourist, direct contact is forbidden

Each macaw bred at the breeding station goes through the kindergarten, where all natural insticts and habits are being developed. Great-green Macaw is monogamic species which starts with reproduction at age of eight years. In the wild, female lays 1-3 eggs per year. This parrot can live as long as for 60-80 years and together with the Green-winged Macaw is the second largest parrot species. The most dangerous threats are deforestation, hunting but also native predators like snakes or toucans which eat their eggs and babies.

The young Great-green macaws are allowed to fly in the station freely which is a great attraction for tourists. However, Duaro Mayorga stresses the fact that direct contact with people is forbidden. „We established strict rules which do not allow any kind of physical contact with people. Therefore parrots are used to presence of people but do not interact with them,“ he said. This species is classified as endangered within IUCN Red List and also in the first appendix of CITES.

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Title photo: (c) Susanne Nilsson. This file is lincensed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.

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