Scarlet Macaw Conservation
These majestic birds may face extinction in Belize unless protective measures are increased along with educational initiatives. Poachers climb the macaw’s nesting trees and take the chicks - some barely 3 weeks old. A bird is worth up to several thousands of dollars on the black market. In 2011, 90% of nests located by park rangers were lost to poaching for the international pet trade. As of July, 2012 rangers located and are monitoring 9 nests, of which a third have been illegally poached. To address the poaching, rangers patrol known nesting areas of the birds.
What purpose does monitoring serve?
1) Disincentives to poachers - Poachers leave the area when they know rangers are near. Even the presence of visitors also serves as a disincentive.
2) Scientific research – Rangers track the number and movements of the scarlet macaws in the nesting area, monitor their behavior patterns, document loss of nests and provide a protective environment.
3) Protection and Enforcement – Rangers often team up with Joint Forces Unit personnel to protect macaws from poachers. Unfortunately, the Chiquibul National Park's team of 2 highly experienced rangers is too small to adequately cover the nesting area and provide 24 hour vigilence during the nesting season (February through August). Solutions include:
- Adding one full time ranger to the team during the nesting season.
- Conducting an in depth survey of the Scarlet Macaws population in Belize.
- Establishing a Vounteer Monitoring Program.
- Expanding Youth Education in Belize and Guatemala, to develop awareness and support for the protection of the trans-boundary Chiquibul-Maya Mountain ecosystem.
- Providing Monitoring Equipment and Supplies for rangers and volunteers.
How You Can Help
1) Make a Donation. Send a check or money order to Friends for Conservation and Development, San Jose Succotz Village, Cayo District Belize, CA.
2) Spread the word. Become a Facebook friend.
Sample Ranger Notes
“The team arrived at site X around midday and made checks on nest No.003. The tree was on the ground. Observations proved that the tree was very rotten, which caused it to break and destroyed the nest in the process, a very disappointing start but nature played its role in the loss of this nest.”
“The team continued up the Raspaculo River to site Y. At the scene we discovered our worst fears. The tree was climbed not more than one day before we arrived. This was a real shock because the nest contained two chicks which were about 3 weeks old. “