BLUE PARROT UNDER PRESSURE
The Lear’s macaw is next to the Hyacinth macaw one of the last two remaining blue macaws in the wild in Brazil. The ongoing destruction of the natural habitat as well as illegal trafficking threatened the survival of this species more than ever.
Together with the government of Brazil, ACTP actively engages in the protection and the conservation of the Lear’s macaw in the wild.
The Lear’s macaw (Anodorhynchus leari) is an endemic species in Brazil, which exclusively lives in the northern part of the Brazilian state of Bahia. Since the first discovery of the species in 1978, the Lear’s macaw, named after the English bird painter Edward Lear (1808-1888), was considered a rare species.
In 1993, a first census revealed a population size of 60 birds worldwide. A second census in 2014, revealed a more comprehensive picture and indicated a total population of the Lear’s macaw of 1,294 birds, distributed across seven districts in Bahia.
The overall habitat of the Lear’s macaw is limited to a very small size. In total, the area comprises only 8sqm. The main reason for the small habitat is that Lear’s macaws prefer small cliffs in red sandstone walls for nesting and sleeping. Furthermore, Lear’s macaws are very sophisticated in their diet. The species almost exclusively eats nuts from the Licuri palm.
The species is today considered endangered. Illegal trafficking and the destruction of the natural habitat pose great threats to the survival of the species. Thanks to protective measures of the government, the population continuously recovered in the past years. This led to a change in the IUCN rating of the Lear’s macaw from “Critically Endangered” to “Endangered” in 2009.
Human influences, like illegal trafficking, growing agriculture and increasing clearing of the natural habitat still pose great threats to the survival of the species.
Growing cattle farms in the region lead to an increased demand for feed and farm land and thereby continuously destroy the natural habitat of the Lear’s macaw. Especially clearings for agricultural purposes destroy the natural stock of Licuri palms. Licuri palms are almost exclusively the source of food for the Lear’s macaw.
The limitation of nesting and sleeping areas to small cliffs in sandstone walls, make the bird furthermore an easy target for poachers. High prices on black markets and human greed still boost illegal trafficking.
Protection measures for the conservation of the Lear’s macaw comprise the continuous monitoring and surveillance of the birds in the wild, as well as the development of a captive reserve population.
With this objective, the state organization Chico Mendes for the Conservation of Biodiversity (ICMBio) established a revised National Action Plan (NAP) in 2012, coordinated by the National Center for Research and Conservation of Wild Birds (Cemave). Objective of the Action Plan is the promotion of population growth of the Lear’s macaw in the wild as well as in captivity.
With the colonization of formerly vacant nesting sites, the population of the Lear’s macaw shows already signs of recovery. However, the increasing destruction of the habitat and the disappearance of essential food sources threaten to destroy any progress made so far.
To ensure the sustainable survival of the species, substantial efforts are required:
- The status of the species in the wild needs to be constantly monitored
- Illegal trafficking of the species needs to be stopped
- Local population needs to be sensitized
Alternative and more sustainable agricultural methods need to be tested and implemented
ACTP BREEDING PROGRAM
The constant threat of the species in the wild due to human influences, increases the need for the development of a captive reserve population more than ever. A captive reserve population acts as insurance for an unforeseen drop in the population in the wild. This includes plans to reintroduce captive birds into the wild, for the colonization of new habitats and for the founding of new colonies.
Since 2014, ACTP is official partner of the Brazilian government in the Lear’s macaw program. We support the Brazilian government on site as well as in the development of a captive reserve population in our breeding facility in Germany..