Environmentalists fight for Guatemala's endangered macaws
Sunday, April 01, 2012 - 02:16
April 2 - A coalition of conservation groups in Guatemala is reporting tentative signs of success in their efforts to save the spectacular scarlet macaw from extinction. The species is critically endangered due to habitat loss and poaching, so the groups are closely monitoring nests throughout the protected Maya Biosphere reserve to ensure as many newly-hatched birds as possible reach adulthood. Rob Muir reports.
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It's mating season in the Maya Biosphere...for the scarlet macaw, a crucial time of year. This protected forest reserve is home to 300 birds, almost all of Guatemala's macaw population, and conservationists like Marcial Cordoba of the Wildlife Conservation Society, are doing all they can to protect nests and ensure that numbers go up rather than down.
The macaw is under threat. Illegal logging of its habitat and poaching for the global pet trade have decimated the species in Guatemala. Cordoba and his colleagues believe their hands-on approach to nest protection is the birds' last hope.
SOUNDBITE: MARCIAL CORDOBA, WILDLIFE CONSERVATIVE SOCIETY COORDINATOR, GUATEMALA, SAYING:
"It's critical, because they are in danger of extinction. We only have a small population here in the Laguna del Tigre area and the San Andres area, and maybe five percent in the Sierra Lacandon. That's why we are fighting for the macaws, so that their population can grow inside the forest and so they can be free and not in captivity."
The work is not easy. Tall trees have to be climbed and camera equipment installed. Adult birds must be examined and treated and their nests closely watched, according to the Conservations Society's Gabriela Ponce Santiazo.
SOUNDBITE: GABRIELA PONCE SANTIAZO, WILDLIFE CONSERVATIVE SOCIETY COORDINATOR, SAYING:
" What we do every year is visit the active nests we know about, and we monitor them from the time the mating partners arrive, using the nest to lay their eggs, and the development of those eggs until they are chicks, and how many of those fly."
The results so far have been encouraging. Last year, 29 macaw chicks survived to adulthood. This year, the team is hoping for even more but, they say, they can't relax.
The biosphere covers a vast range of more than 8000 square miles. And while officially, it is a protected area the conservationists say it is still vulnerable to illegal activity leaving the scarlet macaw as vulnerable as ever.
Rob Muir, Reuters.
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