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Blue-Throated Macaws Cling to Survival in a Single Bolivian Reserve

Blue Throated MacawParrot conservation news has been somewhat dismal lately (please see here for some examples), so today I’d like to highlight a bright spot. Surveys have shown that Bolivia’s Barba Azul Reserve supports a breeding population of Blue-Throated Macaws (Ara glaucogularis), a species so rare that it was believed extinct until its “re-discovery” in 1992.  Maned Wolves, Orinoco Geese, Bush Dogs, Pampas Deer and other rare animals are also making themselves at home in the reserve’s 12,300 acres.

Wildlife Oasis amid Ranches

Managed by the World Land Trust, Barba Azul Reserve is comprised of tropical savannas, “forest islands” and marshes.  I had the good fortune to work in a similar area inVenezuela, and can attest to the incredible diversity of wildlife that such habitats support.  As was true for protected areas in Venezuela, Barba Azul is surrounded by huge cattle ranches. 

While ranch owners often protect wildlife (I and colleagues marked over 500 Green Anacondas on a single ranch inVenezuela!), water management practices and fires lit to burn off dead grass threaten the animals that congregate in nearby reserves.  At Bara Azul, extensive firebreaks have been constructed to protect the area.

One of the World’s Rarest Parrots

Clad in brilliant turquoise and yellow, the huge Blue-Throated Macaw is found only in northern Bolivia.  Believed extinct until 1992, it is classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN and listed on CITES Appendix I.

Up to 110 individuals occupy or use Barba Azul Reserve, the only such concentration known to exist.  At least 7 pairs are raising chicks.  Outside of the reserve, Blue-Throated Macaw sightings are limited to pairs or single birds that occupy cattle ranches separated from one another by hundreds of miles.  In such circumstances, viable breeding populations will not likely become established.

Other Notable Reserve Residents

Bush DogA number of other creatures that are uncommon in the surrounding area, including Giant Anteaters and Marsh Deer, have established themselves at Barba Azul reserve.  The presence of a wide variety of predators, including Maned Wolves, Jaguar, Jaguarundi, Bush Dogs (see photo) and Puma indicates that a complex, functioning ecosystem is in place.


This bodes well for the Blue-Throated Macaw’s future, although species that survive in one location only are considered to be extinction-prone.  Other rare birds that have been documented breeding within the reserve include Orinoco Geese, Black-Masked Finches and Short-Tailed Tyrants.




Further Reading

Blue-throated Macaw videos and info

Conserving the Blue-throated Macaw

World Land Trust and other noted conservation organizations; useful overview



Blue Throated Macaw image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Jeff Kubina

Bush Dog image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Paul Reynolds

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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