Birds, Land Conservation and Forest Restoration

Protecting an Iconic Species: Community involvement in Scarlet Macaw conservation

The Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) is a species in danger of extinction. In Costa Rica, there are only two healthy populations of scarlet macaws, the largest of which is located on the Osa Peninsula. This population is estimated to be between 800 and 1200 individuals (Dear et al 2010). This population was almost completely eliminated due to the illegal removal of trees for timber and agriculture, hunting for food, and illegal trade of Macaws as pets. During the last two decades, commercial logging and hunting of birds has decreased significantly, and the population of Macaws of the Osa Peninsula has increased rapidly. However, the loss of natural cavities in the trees used as nests for these animals has greatly limited the recovery of their populations. A study in recent years recommended long-term conservation that combines environmental education in local schools, community involvement, and stricter penalties for hunters and the Lapa Roja habitat destroyers (Guittar et al 2008).

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Birds, Environmental Education

Conserving the Scarlet Macaw

As part of conservation efforts for the Scarlet Macaw, artificial nests have been installed in two colleges and five schools. In each school, trees with easy visibility were chosen for students based on  characteristics of diameter and height for the installation of the nests.

Students of these schools attended a workshop on ecology, life cycles and the importance of conservation of the species Ara macao. Students from the 5th, 6th, and 9th grades are in charge of monitoring macaw activities and noting events such as flights and perching near the nests and when a macaw investigates the inside of a nest. They also monitor the activity of other species near the nest.

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