SMALL BLUE MACAW EXTINCT IN THE WILD
The blue Spix's macaw recently gained international attention through the Hollywood animation movie Rio, with the supposedly last two Spix's macaws in the lead roles. Unfortunately in real life, the species is already extinct in the wild since the year 2000. Today, only around a 100 birds exist in captivity, making the Spix's macaw the rarest parrot in the world. Together with the Brazilian Government, ACTP actively engages in the protection of this beautiful bird and its reintroduction into the wild.
The Spix's macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii) is an endemic Brazilian parrot, first discovered and documented by the German naturalist Johann Baptist Ritter von Spix on his Brazil expedition in 1819. Already at that time, the species with the blue color was considered particularly rare and over time only few people were able to observe the bird in the wild.
Only little is known about the life of the Spix's macaw and only very few evidence can be found in the ornithological literature. In the middle of the last century the species was considered extinct, until it was spotted again in 1986. Three birds were observed - perhaps the last three of their kind - near Curaça in the north of Bahia state. Their offspring were probably captured in the 1980's and offered for sale in the US and Europe at high prices. It is likely that these birds form the basis of today's population in captivity.
EXTINCT IN THE WILD
In 1990, only one Spix's macaw could be found in the wild, living together with an Illiger macaw (Primolius maracana). Since 2000, the species is considered extinct in the wild. In addition to illegal trafficking, the destruction of habitat due to human influences were the main reason for the extinction of the species. Today only around 100 Spix's macaws exist in captivity worldwide.
The long-term goal of the Brazilian Government, whose partner ACTP is in the Spix's program, is the reintroduction of the Spix's macaw into the wild by the year 2021. Therefore current wildlife protection measures pursue three main goals:
1. Growing a Spix's macaw base population
The primary objective of the Spix's macaw protection measures is to grow a Spix's population, large enough for the reintroduction into the wild. The current population size is a too small and sensitive basis to guarantee a successful and sustainable reintroduction. A particular problem for such a small population proves to be the preservation of the genetic diversity.
2. Developing a suitable habitat in the Caatinga region of Brazil for a speedy reintroduction:
Suitable areas must offer optimal conditions for the birds and be protected against further influences of humans. For several years, intensive efforts have been undergone to search for suitable areas in the Caatinga region. With funds from ACTP, the Lymington Foundation and Parrots International, a farm could be purchased, which includes the area that served the last Spix's macaws in the wild as habitat. The farm, as well as surrounding areas, are planned to form the future protective area for the reintroduction of the Spix's macaws into the wild.
3. Preparing the local population for the future coexistence:
Particularly intensive sensitization of the local population is conducted for the day of the reintroduction and the future coexistence of man and Spix's macaw. A wide range of awareness-raising activities are being carried out in the vicinity of the planned reintroduction area to teach the local people the importance of the blue macaw for their region.
As official partner of the Brazilian state organization ICMBio (Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade), ACTP supports the Spix's macaw program through our own Spix's breeding program in Germany as well as our participation in conservation activities on site in Brazil.
ACTP BREEDING PROGRAM
As things stand today, around 100 Spix's macaws exist in professional parrot breeding facilities. In total, three organizations officially promote the breeding of the Spix's macaw worldwide. Among these three organizations are, besides ACTP, the Al Wabra Wildlife Conservation and Preservation Organization in Qatar and the Brazilian breeding station of the ‘NEST’ organization. The majority of Spix's macaws are nowadays held in the facilities of the Al Wabra organization, which already achieved considerable success in its Spix's breeding program.
ACTP is official partner of the Brazilian Spix's breeding program led by ICMBio, working jointly towards the goal of reintroducing the Spix's macaws into the wild by 2021. At our breeding facility in Germany, our team works on the successful breeding of these rare birds. Through regular exchange of the offspring with the Brazilian offspring, we consistently promote the broadening of the genetic diversity of the species.
In collaboration with universities and other scientific institutions, we are also constantly exploring possibilities for artificial insemination.
Thanks to a dedicated team and enthusiastic supporters we could already achieve remarkable success in our breeding efforts of the Spix's macaw:
• 2008: 1 Spix's macaw offspring
• 2011: 4 Spix's macaw offspring
• 2014: 2 Spix's macaw offspring („Carla“ und „Tiago“)
• 2015: 4 Spix's macaw offspring
To deepen the cooperation and to increase breeding success and genetic diversity, ACTP and ICMBio regularly exchange birds as part of the breeding program:
• 2013: Transfer of ownership of „Felicitas“ to the State of Brazil
• 2013: Transfer of „Paula“ to Brazil for breeding purposes
• 2015: Transfer von „Carla“ and Tiago“ (incl. ownership rights) to the State of Brazil