Avian Expert Articles

Lafeber’s Global Parrot Conservation Spotlight: Bolivia & the Blue-Throated Macaw

blue-throated macaws
blue-throated macaw pair; photo courtesy CLB Foundation

We are returning to Bolivia this month to highlight another organization that does important scientific work to support endangered species, CIESA – the Endangered Species Research Center. CIESA is the first Research Center in Bolivia in the Beni region to gain approval from the General Directorate of Biodiversity and Protected Areas. It is not easy to form non-governmental organizations in Bolivia, so this is an important recognition for the Center’s work. CIESA specializes in research and conservation of parrots in the wild, and specifically, those critically threatened like the blue-throated macaw.

I have just returned from two weeks in Bolivia as part of a Phoenix Landing ecotour. We had the privilege of seeing several psittacine species. Some are common and doing well, like the canary-winged parakeet and the severe macaw. Other parrot species are more challenged and even endangered, like the red-front and blue-throated macaws. Conservation is absolutely essential to their survival. A highlight of our trip was visiting CIESA and meeting with its leadership and seeing their efforts first-hand. They have a long road ahead but they are determined and committed to the mission of improving the blue-throated macaw population.

red-fronted macaws
red-fronted macaw pair; photo courtesy CLB Foundation

Bringing Back the Blues

In concert with the CLB Foundation, which we highlighted in February 2021, CIESA is working toward establishing a breeding program to reintroduce blue-throated macaws back to the protected area of Gran Mojos–Loreto. There are an estimated 50 blue throats in the area now, but more is needed to ensure the survival and genetic diversity in Gran Mojos. CIESA currently has seven individuals that will be part of this future parenting and reintroduction program. CIESA does a great job of caring for these individuals while awaiting the arrival of future parrots from several international locations. Importing the needed individuals to pair up for breeding is filled with administrative challenges, but the goal is to have this program in operation very soon.

Meanwhile, the birds on-site are being maintained with extreme care in preparation for their future role as parents to birds that will boost the wild population. They are fed a diverse whole-food diet, provided expansive enclosures, and there are two veterinarians at CIESA to ensure their health and well-being. The future offspring of these individuals may be critical to the survival of the species in the region! One of CIESA’s most important current needs is medical supplies, including a microscope. This will help the veterinarians provide regular wellness checks for these mission-essential future blue-throat parents.

Lafeber’s $500 GLOBAL PARROT conservation grant this month goes toward the purchase of a microscope and medical supplies, in concert with a donation from the Phoenix Landing ecotour participants.  If you would also like to help, you can make a donation to Phoenix Landing and note that it is for Bolivia/CIESA.

CIESA link: https://www.facebook.com/CIESABolivia

CLB link: https://www.facebook.com/CLBFoundationBolivia/

Phoenix Landing: https://www.phoenixlanding.org/donate-today.html

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