Ecoregion: Xeric Scrub
Key Species: Yellow-shouldered Parrot, Blue-Crowned Parakeet, Southern Long-nosed Bat, Margarita White-tailed Deer, Ocelot
Chacaracual Community Conservation Area is located in the dry forests on the western portion of Venezuela’s 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.
Lying off the north-eastern coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea, Margarita Island covers an area of 920 square kilometres, divided into two ‘peninsulas’ connected only by a narrow strip of land.
Recognising the significance of the habitat and biodiversity of the Macanao Peninsula, World Land Trust (WLT) supported the purchase of 1,809 acres (732 hectares) of threatened dry forest, with funding provided by an individual donor.
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.
Illegal hunting pressure, illegal trafficking of wild animals and plants, and open sky mining are all significant threats facing Chacaracual. There is a distinct lack of protected areas on the Macanao Peninsula – the only other protected area in is a small portion included in Laguna de La Restinga National Park.
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:
Yellow-shouldered Parrot (Amazona barbadensis), considered to be Venezuela’s most endangered parrot; the Peninsula 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 Parakeet (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.
Also found on the peninsila are Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), the endemic Margarita White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus margaritae) and the vulnerable Southern Long-nosed bat (Leptonycteris curasoae).
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 Parakeet and the four species of marine turtles that nest on the island.
Members of the local community are employed as rangers through World Land Trust’s Keepers of the Wild programme.