Scarlet macaw Ara macao cyanoptera conservation programme in Mexico

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Abstract

In Mexico, the Scarlet macaw Ara macao cyanoptera has been extirpated from the states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Oaxaca (with the possible exception of a subpopulation of c. 50 birds in the Chimalapas region, although there have been no recorded sightings of these birds in the last decade), Tabasco and Campeche. At the time of writing, the wild population comprises only 150–250 birds mainly located in the Lacandon Jungle in Chiapas. The drastic reduction in the Scarlet macaw population in Mexico is related to an accelerated loss of their habitat and anthropogenic factors, such as illegal trade. It is evident that the Scarlet macaw is currently subject to very high pressures with clear indications that wild populations will disappear from the Jungle in the next 10 years. In 1993, Xcaret began a programme of Scarlet macaw reproduction in captivity, developing and using the best protocols for hand rearing, and establishing new procedures to facilitate parental rearing of the chicks without human intervention. The aim is to rear captive-bred macaws that will adapt to the wild successfully and not require post-release supplemental feeding. Endoscopy techniques have been used to determine gender and match the pairs in more than 100 enclosures. Since 2007 reintroduction procedures, developed in partnership with Acajungla A. C., Aluxes Ecoparque Palenque and some scientists of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, have culminated in the release of 36 Scarlet macaws in 2013 in three events, on 21 April (17), 29 June (11) and 11 August (8).

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