Brazil stands at first place as regards megadiversity: it possesses between 15 and 20% of the total Earth species, given that 20-22% are of plant species, approximately 10% of amphibians and mammals and 17% of birds of the planet.
Concerning the parrot family [crooked beak species], it is the richest country with 72 species, some of them being endemic. For the biodiversity conservation, the situation is not the best due the loss of habitat area and mischaracterization of the main biomes.
The Hyacinth Macaw Project is a positive conservation example in Brazil, which grew out of a personal initiative and has been interruptedly carried out for the past 16 years with the support of many institutions, companies and NGO's. It was created with educational purposes to study biology and ecology of the Hyiacinth macaw, (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus), in its natural environment.
Since the beginning there has been studies involving biology, ecology, behavior, genetics, conservation, sanity, nutrition and hundreds of artificial nest-boxes have been set up. More recently, techniques were developed aiming at the handling of natural and artificial nests, as well as the handling of eggs and offsprings to increase the reproductive success of that particular speciess in nature.
With the project, the hyacinth macaw started to be lifted up as the flag for the conservation of biodiversity and many positive results were gathered. In the beginning of the project, the population of the hyacinth macaw in Pantanal was estimated in 1500, today, there are more than 5000. The number of macaws are not only growing, but they are also expanding to places where they did not occur before.
The farmers are interested in the conservation of the nesting sites of the hyacinth macaw, which ends up benefiting other parrots, such as the Red and Green Macaw (Ara chloroptera), Golden-collared Macaw (Primolius auricollis), and other 17 speciess of birds that occupy the same nests. Apart from those field activities, the project also encompasses another conservation aspect, which is the environmental education and awareness of the general public.
Thus, the human population is more aware, informed and able to denounce against the traffic of wild animals. That happens through the distribution of informative material (brochures), articles in magazines, newspapers, videos and scientific lectures for the laic public.
As a result, the community in general has supported and participated in the conservation process, becoming more concerned to environmental issues. The Hyacinth Macaw Institute already welcomed dozens of interns and volunteers from all over Brazil and abroad, who were trained in field activities and nowadays carry out other projects throughout the country.
Also the publication of dozens of scientific papers in books, articles and conferences in Brazil and abroad were done. In 2007, small groups will be allowed to accompany the activities of the Hyacinth Macaw Project as part of an experimental ecotourism program. In 2007, Tara spent a day with the researchers, read about in in the links here and the Eco-Tourism page.
By: Neiva Guedes
Coordinator of the Hyiacinth macaw Project
For more information, please see their websites:
Pousada Caiman http://www.caiman.com.br/default.aspx?pt=2
Projeto Arara Azul (in Portuguese) http://www.projetoararaazul.org.br/arara/Home/OProjeto/tabid/53/Default.aspx
Parrot Watching Group from Denmark's tour
Blue Macaw site in English http://www.bluemacaws.org/neiva.htm