Macaws are a family of long tailer parrots, best known for their colorful feathers. They are native to Central and South America, and they were also once found in the Caribbean. The majority of the species are found in areas of forest, especially rainforest, but some are found in woodlands or savannahs. There are 19 known species of macaw, but some of these are already extinct or thought to be extinct in the wild. The majority of the remaining species are listed as endangered and these populations remain a real threat of extinction. Let’s find out what is threatening these beautiful birds and what is being done to protect them.
Why are macaws endangered?
Unfortunately, the largest threats to these animals comes from human involvement. The greatest dangers come from deforestation (clearing land for human settlement or farming), which reduces the amount of suitable habitat for these animals. Another danger is illegal trapping, in which the birds are captured and then sold on the black market to collectors. These birds are highly sought after and can fetch more than $10,000.
The first step in protecting these birds has been to regulate all international trade of these birds, which is regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). Some species have been completely banned from commercial trading. Captive breeding programs are also in place and these birds are then released back into the environment. Locals, including ranch owners, are now encouraged to protect these birds.
Habitat protection will also be an important part of securing the future of these birds. This means training locals and governments to prevent or reduce habitat destruction as well as encouraging replanting and care for the environment.
Did you know?
The Hyacinth Macaw is one of the endangered species of Macaw. It is estimated that 10,000 birds were taken from the wild for the bird trade in the 1980′s!