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Keywords:

  • breeding programme;
  • Buffon's macaw;
  • EEP;
  • great green macaw;
  • natural history;
  • in situ status

The Great green or Buffon's macaw Ara ambigua is discontinuously distributed in lowland tropical forests primarily along the Caribbean coast of Central America. Various threats to this habitat and trapping are severely affecting the remaining population of c. 5000 birds. In the early 1990s fieid studies were initiated to gather information about the ecology and biology of the species. In 1994 a European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) for A. ambigua was established to help safeguard a viable captive population for the future. Morphological differences between A. ambigua and the Military macaw Ara militaris, which are important to identify in order to avoid hybridization in the captive population, in situ projects, ex situ studies and the captive-breeding programme are described. At the end of 1996 the European studbook reported 76 registered Great green macaws at 23 institutions, although only 14 chicks had been reared successfully by four pairs in a 2 year period.