Lying off the north-eastern coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea, Margarita Island covers an area of 920km2 divided into two ‘peninsulas’ connected only by a narrow strip of land. Find out how the WLT is protecting this Island of biodiversity...
The project area being supported by the WLT is located in the dry forests on the western portion of Margarita Island, known as the Macanao Peninsula. The aim of the project is to safeguard the island's threatened dry forests, which are vital roosting sites for the Vulnerable Yellow-Shouldered Parrot.
Other projects in Venezuela:
Recognising the significance of the habitat and biodiversity of the Macanao Peninsula the WLT, with funding provided by an individual donor, supported the purchase of 1,809 acres (732 ha) of threatened dry forest.
Between March and August 2012, WLT also raised £10,000 in the Margarita Island Parrot Appeal to successfully increase the protection of Yellow-shouldered Parrots on the island; these funds supported the training of local people as wildlife rangers, helped strengthen the monitoring of the eggs and chicks, increased overnight patrols by rangers, and funded tree planting to improve the forest habitat for the parrot's feeding, breeding and nesting.
WLT is focusing its fundraising efforts on the Keepers of the Wild programme to increase the protection of Margarita Island's threatened habitat and wildlife. Funds will go towards supporting ranger Pablo Antonio Millán – whose knowledge of natural history is extensive and covers most plant and animal species in the region.
Margarita Island is known to be the largest and most biologically diverse among the Venezuelan Caribbean Islands, with a large proportion of its species found on the Macanao Peninsula.
Margarita Island is home to two of the four most threatened Venezuelan parrot species including:
- Yellow-shouldered Parrot (Amazona barbadensis), considered to be Venezuela’s most endangered parrot; the Peninsular is the sole habitat for the species on the island. It is the flagship species of Provita’s conservation and outreach activities on Macanao and due to the success of Provita’s conservation programme it has been officially named the ‘Regional Bird’ of Nueva Esparta State on the Peninsula.
- The Blue-Crowned Conure (Aratinga acuticaudata neoxena), an endemic subspecies, is also present; its population numbers less than 100 individuals on Margarita Island so this is vital to protect.
- Extreme illegal hunting pressure - primarily for subsistence and development;
- Illegal trafficking - of wild animals and plants;
- Open sky mining - one of the biggest challenges on the Macanao Peninsula especially threatening the seasonal creek beds, dry forests, and xerophytic vegetation patches at lower altitudes
- Lack of protected areas - the only other protected area in Macanao is a small portion included in Laguna de La Restinga National Park.
Chacaracual Community Conservation Area
The Chacaracual Community Conservation Area (CCCA) located in the heart of the proposed Macanao Wildlife Reserve includes a diversity of ecosystems from the lowlands to the top of the highest mountains in the peninsula and is an important roosting and feeding site for the Yellow-shouldered Parrot.
An important aspect of Provita’s work in the area involves awareness raising campaigns and environmental education programmes with local communities and schools on the island. These include programmes to highlight the importance of the Yellow-shouldered Parrot, Blue-headed Conure and the four species of marine turtles that nest on the island.