Saving Belize’s last remaining 100 pairs of Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao cyanoptera)
With just 5 full time National Park Rangers to patrol and protect the Chiquibul National Park (263,003 acres) it is impossible for the FCD rangers to protect the Chiquibul Forest from multiple threats at one time. During the dry season the illegal logging of mahogany and cedar along the western border with Belize starts to escalate. This activity continues through June and July. This peak in illegal logging coincides with the preferred poaching period of Belize’s Scarlet Macaw chicks from their nests as they are getting ready to fledge during these months. In 2011 an estimated 90% of the Macaw nests monitored by Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD are the co-managers of the Chiquibul NP with the Dept. of Forestry) were lost to natural predation and poaching by Guatemalan nationals.
If the main nesting site of the Macaws along a 25 kilometer section of the Upper Macal River and Raspaculo Branch could be secured by a dedicated squad of National Park Rangers (supported by a rapid reaction force of the Belize Defence Force and Police) during the months of January through July on an annual basis Belize’s endangered Scarlet Macaws would survive and build a sustainable population.
The WCS estimate that regionally a 32% survival rate of Macaw nests is necessary to create a stable population. They also estimate that if the poaching of chicks could be eliminated in the Chiquibul Forest then the nest survival rate in the Chiquibul Forest would be close to 55%.
Funding for additional National Park Rangers in the Chiquibul National Park is an urgent issue as the population of just 100 breeding pairs could be close to collapse due to the intense pressure of habitat loss (the hydro-electric development project documented in Bruce Barcott’s book “The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw”) and the more recent threat of systematic poaching. Ideally the 5 rangers need to be expanded to 25 rangers to cover the entire National Park. That is however a long term goal and we believe a dedicated team of 4 additional rangers could provide the deterrent and enforcement necessary to protect the nesting site.
Friends for Conservation and Development estimate that an estimated $57,000 USD is needed over an initial 24 month period to zone off the nesting perimeter, create regulations, map the nesting habitat, construct a field camp in the Raspaculo Branch, acquire necessary equipment and conduct surveillance and monitoring of the breeding site for 7 months between January and July.
We hope to raise the campaign target of $57,000 US through a range of sources including fund raising expeditions, donation campaigns, in-kind donations from outdoor equipment manufacturers and through philanthropy.
Ideally this figure needs to be supplemented by the addition of a second patrol boat enabling 2 boats to be deployed at the same time, one for each river system. The cost of purchasing a second boat and equipping it would be approximately $25,000 USD.
If you’d like to help make a difference and help protect this magnificent sub-species of Scarlet Macaw from extinction please contact Neil Rogers at email@example.com or Rafael Manzanero, Executive Director of Friends for Conservation and Development at – firstname.lastname@example.org
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