A count of the Lear's Macaw population

by Fundação Biodiversitas staff in June 2007 at the Canudos Biological Station in Bahia, Brazil

The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) has reported that a count of the Lear's Macaw population carried out by Fundação Biodiversitas staff in June 2007 at the Canudos Biological Station in Bahia, Brazil - a reserve supported by the organisation - arrived at a total of 751 individuals. The macaws were counted as they flew out of the canyons where they roost and nest to their licuri palm feeding areas.

The report states that the global population in 1987 was estimated at just 70 birds, although Carlos Yamashita, the highly-respected Brazilian scientist, told me several times in the early to mid-nineties that he thought it was nearer 200.  The 2003 census arrived at 455 macaws, and until last month’s count, the current population was estimated at 652 (survey 2006).

Mike Parr, Vice President of  the American Bird Conservancy said “This is a remarkable success story – a species on the brink of extinction is now rebounding because its nesting grounds were protected.”

With the support of ABC, Fundação Biodiversitas has acquired land to expand the Canudos Biological Station to a 3,600 acre nature reserve, a ten-fold increase from its original size (see report below on 4th April 2007).  At present this represents the only protected area for this critically endangered species.

“The protection of such a vital site for the Lear’s Macaw, through the expansion of the Canudos Biological Station, is a huge step towards the preservation of the species,” said Eduardo Figueiredo, Coordinator of the Biodiversitas Lear’s Macaw Conservation Programme. “The growing population confirms how essential it is to protect an endangered species’ habitat.”

For 18 years, Biodiversitas has protected the Lear’s Macaw colony in the state of Bahia. Now the conservation group is implementing protective measures for the reserve, and aims to secure additional dry forest areas that are vital for the species feeding. In addition, the project involves extensive environmental education, through both ecotourism and improving pride and understanding of the natural ecosystem among local people.

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