The sighting of a flock of Military Macaws (Ara militaris) reflects the conservation success of Narupa Reserve, which is supported by World Land Trust (WLT) on the eastern slopes of the Ecuadorian Andes.
The reserve is owned and managed by Fundación Jocotoco, one of WLT’s four conservation partners in Ecuador. In 2013, Jocotoco was able to expand the reserve by 89 acres (36 hectares) thanks to funding from WLT and American Bird Conservancy. Today the reserve protects 1,752 acres (710 hectares).
Noisy, sociable and colourful, Military Macaws should be easy to spot in the wild - in theory, at least. In reality, the Military Macaw is in serious decline. With a current global population estimated at 10,000 individuals, the species is classified as Vulnerable by IUCN. Surviving in the wild is tough going for the Military Macaw but - as this recent sighting proves - the species can thrive in protected areas.
In the last week of April 2014, a reserve ranger in Narupa, Geronimo Tanguila came across a group of Military Macaws feeding on the fruits of the Copal tree (Dacryodes cupularis, family Burseraceae), which grows within the reserve. He later managed to take a photograph of them flying overhead.
“This sighting is very exciting, and is a sign that the Narupa reserve is a very important refuge for the survival of many species of flora and fauna, including the Military Macaw,” said Carolina Arroyo, Reserves Director at Fundación Jocotoco.
In Ecuador, as in other Latin American countries, the species is a target of illegal wildlife trafficking for the pet trade. To make matters worse, the inexorable expansion of agriculture is steadily destroying the natural habitat of the Military Macaw, which can live up to 60 years in the wild.
The Military Macaw is found throughout Latin American, from Mexico to northern Argentina. In Ecuador Military Macaws are a rare and local species inhabiting the subtropical forest of the eastern slopes of the Andes.
WLT provides ongoing support to Jocotoco and its rangers through Keepers of the Wild. Please help protect Military Macaws by donating to WLT’s Keepers of the Wild appeal.