The Most Important Nesting Area of the World’s Rarest Macaw becomes New Nature Reserve

Ringed Blue-throated Macaws return to the nestbox

(Santa Cruz, Bolivia. August 20, 2018) The Bolivian conservation organization Asociación Armonía has purchased the most important nesting area of the Critically Endangered Blue-throated Macaw in a joint effort involving four leading conservation groups – American Bird Conservancy, International Conservation Fund of Canada, IUCN Netherlands, and World Land Trust. Over 1,680 acres (680 ha) of savanna and tropical forest in central Bolivia is now protected. In recognition for her dedication to saving Blue-throated Macaws in the wild, Armonía has named the reserve the Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Reserve. This new reserve together with Armonía’s existing Barba Azul Nature Reserve establishes a total protected area for the Blue-throated Macaw of 28,862 acres (11,680 ha).

Securing the most important breeding site for this Critically Endangered species found only in Bolivia is key to the long-term recovery of the species that began in 1998. “We are now witnessing the achievements from twenty years of hard work.

– said Rodrigo Soria, Executive Director of Asociación Armonía, the leading bird conservation organization in Bolivia.

“ Now we fully protect a portion of the macaw’s breeding habitat, and will be able to closely study its biology and behavior to ensure the species’ survival.”

– said Tjalle Boorsma, Conservation Program Director of Asociación Armonía.

A pair of Critically Endangered Blue-throated Macaws playing after a breakfast of Motacu fruit in the Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Reserve. (Video still : Bennett Hennessey)

The Blue-throated Macaw is found only in one place on Earth: the Beni Savannas of Bolivia.  It is considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN because of its low population size. It has been declining for the last century due to habitat destruction (including the removal and burning of large trees which offer nest cavities), and in the 1980s its population was decimated by international pet trade. The Blue-throated Macaw was declared a Bolivian National Heritage species in October 2014, but is not protected in a national protected area, but only in Armonia’s private reserves.  It is also found in private cattle ranches where it is adversely impacted by over-stocking of cattle and yearly savanna burning to promote the growth of fresh grass.

The growth of the city of Trinidad has effectively fragmented the Blue-throated Macaw population into two subpopulations (northern and southern).  With the southern population located at the former private cattle ranch Esperancita, Armonía has run a successful nest box program since 2005. On the 20th of Agust 2018, the

The nest box program has produced 76 Blue-throated Macaw fledglings, the majority (51) from the reserve, making it the most important breeding area. This area, the Loreto municipality, holds a population which has doubled in the last decade due to Armonía’s nest box program. In 2017 for the first time, a pair of macaws fledged from nest boxes returned to breed in the reserve, completing the cycle and demonstrating the program’s long-term potential.

Blue-throated Macaw chicks in nest box ( Photo: Aidan Maccormick)

Laney Rickman (1952 – 2017), founder of the Texas based non-profit Bird Endowment, originated and developed the Nido Adoptivo™ nest box program in 2006 in partnership with Asociación Armonía as an annual campaign to raise funds to cover the costs of construction, installation and maintenance of the nest boxes, as well as the research and monitoring costs of the project.

The nest box program flourished thanks to Laney’s passionate and dedicated support. Laney also provided vital promotion, contacts, and contributions to international parrot news. Armonía is proud to declare the Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Reserve in honor of her dedication to the conservation of this species.

In the north, Armonía established  Barba Azul Nature Reserve in 2009 to protect the macaw’s critical foraging and roosting habitat along with three Vulnerable and four Near Threatened bird species, and mammals such as the Maned Wolf, Giant Anteater, and Jaguar. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has provided substantial funding for conservation efforts in the area, targeting Buff-breasted Sandpipers and other shorebird species that stopover in Barba Azul Nature Reserve on their long migrations.

Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Reserve (Tjalle Boorsma)

The Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Reserve will be managed to promote an increased breeding population, with additional nest boxes and habitat management to improve macaw foraging species. Armonía will establish a local education and interpretation center where school groups and Bolivians can see and learn about this rare, endemic species.  To cover the long-term management cost of the reserve, Armonía is seeking support for an endowment, and will manage low-impact tourism from November to March and low-impact cattle ranching in designated areas that were previously had been converted to invasive Africanized grass pastures.

To honor and protect Laney’s legacy, her family, the Bird Endowment, Asociación Armonía, and American Bird Conservancy established the Laney Rickman Blue-throated Macaw Fund.  Donations are welcome and provide vital long-term support for the Nido Adoptivo™ nest box program, as well as habitat conservation and reserve management needed to help save the Blue-throated Macaw. Currently, there is a matching campaign underway with total donations up to $100,000 matched 1:1 until the end of 2018.

https://abcbirds.org/rickman-memorial-fund/

American Bird Conservancy (www.abcbirds.org) conserves native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats while building capacity of the bird conservation movement. ABC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization that is consistently awarded a top, four-star rating by the independent group, Charity Navigator.

International Conservation Fund of Canada (http://icfcanada.org) advances the long-term preservation of nature and biodiversity in the tropics and other priority areas worldwide.

IUCN Netherlands (https://www.iucn.nl) is the Dutch national committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network. Our mission is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.

The World Land Trust World Land Trust (https://www.worldlandtrust.org) is an international conservation charity that protects the world’s most biologically significant and threatened habitats acre by acre. Through a network of partner organizations around the world, WLT funds the creation of reserves and provides permanent protection for habitats and wildlife. Partnerships are developed with established and highly respected local organizations who engage support and commitment among the local community.

Asociación Armonía (www.armonia-bo.org) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of birds and their natural habitat in Bolivia. Armonía’s conservation actions are based on scientific studies and active involvement of local communities, respecting their culture and knowledge. Asociación Armonía is the Bolivian key partner of American Bird Conservancy, BirdLife International, ICFC, and World Land Trust.

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