Translation of an article by Herton Escobar

This is a translation of "Acordo trará 50 ararinhas ao Brasil", an article in Portuguese by Herlon Escobar from São Paulo, published 24th June 2018

Agreement to bring 50 macaws to Brazil

Birds born in captivity abroad will be used to re-populate the caatinga with the species, considered extinct in nature since 2000

The saga of the re-introduction of the blue macaw in the Brazilian caatinga will begin with an Atlantic crossing. Fifty birds of the species - extinct in the wild for almost two decades - are expected to migrate from Germany to Brazil soon, to provide the population that will re-populate the Bahian sertao with these nice macaws from 2019.

The agreement for this to happen is due to be signed tomorrow by Environment Minister Edson Duarte at a meeting in Belgium, where four of the 158 blue macaws in the world today are in captivity.

"We are getting closer to the moment they arrive home, " Ugo Vercillo, director of the Department of Conservation and Species Management at the Ministry of Environment

Discovered in the early 19th century by the German naturalist Johann Baptist von Spix, and exclusive to the Brazilian caatinga, the little blue macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii) had its population decimated by the capture and trafficking of wild animals. The last known specimen in nature disappeared in October 2000, and to this day it is not known whether he died or was captured by someone.

Since then, the few remaining specimens in private collections have been used to re-produce the species in captivity. Almost all abroad.

Naturally rare, the spix only existed originally in a small area in the interior of Juazeiro and Curaçá in northern Bahia, where the federal government created two conservation areas earlier this month: the Wildlife Refuge and the Environmental Protection Area of the Ararinha-Azul, intended for the re-introduction and protection of the species. A breeding centre will be built on site to receive the 50 macaws from Germany and produce the offspring that will be released in the wild

The transfer of the birds should occur in the first quarter of 2019 - once the centre is ready - and the first releases can be made from there. "We hope to have blue macaws successfully reintroduced into nature by 2022," says veterinarian Camile Lugarini, a researcher at the National Centre for Research and Conservation of Wild Birds (Cemave), the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), and responsible for the National Action Plan for the Conservation of  the Little Blue Macaw (Ararinha-Azul)

It will be a cautious process. The first releases will be made together with Blue-winged Macaws (Primolius maracana), another species, with habits similar to those of the macaw - both, for example, use hollows of caraibeira (ipê-amarillo) to make their nests. Before disappearing, the last male of "spix" paired with a maracanã female.

Researchers from ICMBio, in partnership with the local population, have been studying the behaviour of maracanã to learn more about the species and, on that basis, to plan the release and monitoring of the next ararinhas.

"I think a lot of what we\'re learning from the maracanã will be good for the blue macaw," says Camile.

The creation of protected areas was essential, but it is still necessary to tidy things up to receive the macaws, she points out. The landscape is greatly impacted by the presence of goats, which interfere with the vegetation cover that the birds depend on to make their nests and feed themselves.


The 50 birds that will come to Brazil are being held by the Association for the Conservation of Endangered Parrots (ACTP), a private non-profit organization that today holds 90% of the world\'s captive little blue macaws - after the closure of an institution in Qatar, which moved its stock to Berlin earlier this year.

"It's a huge responsibility," Martin Guth, president of ACTP, told the Brazilian government that he will pay for the new breeding centre in Bahia.

Producing birds will be no problem, says the association's scientific director, Cromwell Purchase, who is eager to begin re-introduction. "All the pieces are starting to fit, just the way we dreamed. It's fantastic."

End of article

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