Press Release – Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) – Last year the Forestry Bureau of the Council of Agriculture of the ROC (Taiwan) through its Embassy in Belize provided financial assistance for the conservation of scarlet macaws in Belize. This year, the Embassy has announced the further support of the program through a financial support of US$10,000.00.
Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao cyanoptera) are the largest of the parrots in Belize, with a national population thought to be fewer than 200 individuals. It was once thought to occur over much of the central forested areas of Belize, but is now considered to be restricted to the Chiquibul/Maya Mountains area, with a nesting range concentrated in the Chiquibul Forest.
The major threat to the survival of macaws in Belize has been determined to be poaching for the pet trade. To address this situation, FCD has been monitoring macaw nests annually for a period of 7 months.
“Last year thanks to the Government of the ROC (Taiwan) we started an in-situ conservation program whose aim was to hand rear chicks that were highly at risk of being stolen from their nests. Young macaws in Guatemala are sold for more than 15,000.00 quetzales and therefore the race is to contain the illegal pet trade from occurring across the borders,” stated the press release.
The funds provided by the Government of the ROC (Taiwan) will be used for upgrading the laboratory setting and strengthening the patrol effort as an anti-poaching strategy to help reduce any illegal extraction of parrots for the pet trade. To do this FCD will purchase solar panels, plumbing materials, a laptop for data entry and processing, and interior furniture. In addition FCD will acquire field equipment for rangers in order to operate in the field for a period of three months.
Although the scarlet macaw breeding season started late last year compared to previous years, a total of 15 chicks were able to integrate themselves into the wild population. Seven of these chicks were raised by their parents in the wild, while 8 were raised by research field staff in an in-situ rustic laboratory and finally soft released. The Forestry Bureau of Taiwan was instrumental on this success since it provided the necessary funds to start up the laboratory, flight cage and educational materials. This year’s financial support will further build on this conservation success.