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Summary of Activities and Principle Results

© Steffen Reichle

  • The Red-fronted Macaw (Ara rubrogenys) is a Bolivian endemic found only in Inter-Andean dry valleys of Chuquisaca, Cochabamba, Potosi, and Santa Cruz.
  • This first National and Interinstitutional Census registered 1,160 individuals (the last calculation was 807 macaws in 2012).
  • This increase could be the result of conservation efforts by different actors helping population growth in the last decade, efforts that are worth maintaining.
  • The preservation of a healthy population of Red-fronted Macaws depends on integration of rural indigenous communities in conservation plans.

Conducted by Asociación Armonía and Fundación Natura Bolivia, in collaboration with Torotoro and El Palmar National Parks (SERNAP), the Cochabamba and Santa Cruz departmental governments, and Alcide d’Orbigny Natural History Museum, in March and April, 2021 a national census was conducted of the Red-fronted Macaw in the four Inter-Andean river basins (Mizque, Grande, Caine, and Pilcomayo Rivers) and departments (Chuquisaca, Cochabamba, Potosí, and Santa Cruz) where this Critically Endangered Bolivian endemic lives. Six teams of 2-5 previously-trained people simultaneously conducted field work monitoring reproductive sites (rocky cliffs and, locally, palm trees) where the macaws nest in small cavities, and roosts (resting sites without reproductive activity) used by the species. 

In the four river basins, the teams found a total of 46 cliffs and 8 palm trees with reproductive activity, 19 cliffs without reproductive activity but potentially adequate, 4 cliffs that were not adequate, 12 roosts and 6 foraging areas, in a total of 466 hours of observation. 159 pairs (318 macaws) were recorded with indicators of reproductive activity (ranging from cavity inspection by pairs to presence of chicks and fledglings); 84 of these were in the Mizque River basin, 46 in the Grande River basin, 20 in the Caine River basin and 9 in the Pilcomayo River basin. Conservatively adding the macaws associated with the cliffs, palms, roosts, and foraging areas, the total number of macaws recorded was 1,160 (global population): 482 in the Mizque River basin, 398 in the Grande River basin, 181 in the Caine River basin, and 99 in the Pilcomayo River basin. With relation to the global population of the species, the proportion of reproductively active macaws was 27,4%, varying from 18,2% in the Pilcomayo basin to 34,9% in the Mizque basin. 

A census conducted in 2011-2012 by the Spanish ornithologist J.L. Tella and colleagues, published in the scientific journal Biological Conservation in 2013, reported a global population of only 807 macaws and a reproductive population of <100 pairs (ca. 20% of the global population). This census involved less field effort (38-40 reproductive sites visited, 284 observation hours), which could partially explain the lower values. Other possible explanations are global population growth over the last 10 years thanks to conservation efforts; and the existence of natural variation from year to year in reproductively-active pairs.

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