National Audubon Society and Belize Audubon Society

Help Protect Belize’s Endangered Scarlet Macaw with the Scarlet Six Biomonitoring Team

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Nesting Scarlet Macaw in the Chiquibul Photo by Dominique Lizama

The National Audubon Society has been a strong partner and supporter of the Belize Audubon Society for almost a decade. Conservation is the central pillar for this partnership which has truly benefited both people and the environment of Belize. More recently, National Audubon has provided funding to strengthen Belize Audubon Society’s co-managed protected areas by supporting its community outreach, environmental education, protected areas management, and biodiversity research and monitoring programs. They have also provided training opportunities for staff.

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Scarlet Six climber checking Macaw nest Photo by Dominique Lizama

 To show its commitment to the success of conservation actions in Belize, National Audubon Society has chimed in to champion the work of the Scarlet Six Biomonitoring Team whose mandate is to protect the Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao) and other endangered species in their natural habitat. This charismatic species is described as ‘endangered’ in Belize (Meerman 2005) with less than 250 individuals (Matola 1999). The northern subspecies A.m. cyanoptera, which has declined significantly, disjunctly ranges from northeastern Nicaragua to southern Mexico. Historically, the individuals found in the northern part of the range (Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize) were a single, unique population. Today however, the Scarlet Macaws found in Belize are now isolated from the individuals found in Guatemala and Mexico.

 The perils of the Chiquibul Forest are a harsh reality to Belize’s natural resources, but the founders of this Belizean NGO are not going to let anything deter them from being united to save the Scarlet Macaws. For the past three years, the team of community wardens is deployed for 10-15 days at a time during the breeding season to watch over and protect chicks from being poached for the pet trade. By extension, their presence keeps poachers at bay from killing other wildlife. Since 2012, poaching rates of Macaws in the area have reduced by 70% and in 2014, the chicks under guard successfully fledged; 7 chicks were added to the Scarlet Macaw numbers in Belize.

 What’s the connection to Belize Audubon Society? While the Macaws breed in Chiquibul, they utilize Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary (co-managed by Belize Audubon Society) and surrounding areas including nearby Red Bank Village throughout the non-breeding season. This then, makes both protected areas and the forest in the village important for the survival of this species. As a result, Belize Audubon Society plans on working with the Scarlet Six Biomonitoring Team to monitor and protect known Scarlet Macaw nests across the Maya Mountains.

The resources from National Audubon Society (www.audubon.org) will be used to help keep the team in operation to protect known nests as well as to explore new areas where potential macaw nests can be found, so they can monitor and protect them the following season.

 

To learn more about their work and successes, look up their Facebook page:

Scarlet Six Biomonitoring Team

 

To help ensure that the Scarlet Six Biomonitoring Team can continue protecting the Scarlet Macaws in Chiquibul Forest, donate today at:

Rainforest Restoration Foundation

http://www.rainforestrestoration.org/donate.shtml

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