Saturday, June 25, 2016

Rare Spix's Macaw seen in Brazil for first time in 15 years



Getty Images Image caption Loss of natural habitat was blamed for the loss of the Spix's Macaw in Brazil
BBC  25 June 2016

A rare blue parrot which was believed to be extinct in the wild has been spotted in Brazil for the first time in 15 years. 


A solitary Spix's Macaw was caught on video flying through trees in the state of Bahia. 


Pedro Develey, head of the Brazilian Society for the Conservation of Birds, said he believed it had been freed by a poacher trying to avoid arrest. 


A search of the area had just been concluded. 


A colony of Spix's Macaw - the breed made famous in the animated "Rio" films - is being bred in Qatar and Brazil plans to reintroduce some of them into the wild. 




Mr Develey said the news was "amazing".


"You should have seen the joy of the people when I got there, saying the macaw was back," he said.

However, since the initial sighting, the whereabouts of the bird is unknown, the newspaper Estadao de Sao Paulo reported.
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Spix’s Macaw reappears in Brazil

birdlife.org  By Shaun Hurrell, 24 Jun 2016 

It was Grandpa Pinpin’s dream: to see his favourite bird, Spix’s Macaw, fly again over the skies of Curaçá, small town of about 20,000, in the dry Caatinga area in Bahia, Brazil, where goat herding is the main activity. Pinpin Oliveira passed away last year, age 94, his wish unfulfilled. But the baton was passed to his 16 year old grand-daughter, Damily, who not only saw the macaw, not seen in the wild since 2000, but also managed to film it with her mobile phone.


Spix’s Macaw Cyanopsitta spixii is Critically Endangered and possibly extinct in the wild, primarily as a result of trapping for trade plus habitat loss. This famous vibrant blue bird also became the star of the animated film ‘Rio’, as main characters ‘Blu’ and ‘Jewel’.


The bird was first sighted last Saturday. The first person to see the bird was local farmer Nauto Sergio de Oliveira who, as soon as confirmed that is was indeed a Spix’s Macaw, told his neighbours. On the following day, his wife Lourdes Oliveira and her daughter Damilys Oliveira woke up before dawn to look for the macaw in Barra Grande creek’s riparian forest. At 6:20 AM they were able to not only see the bird, but also take a video on Damilys’ mobile phone.


With the video Lourdes contacted the biologists from the Society for the Conservation of Birds in Brazil (SAVE Brasil, BirdLife Partner), one of the organisations that integrate Projeto Ararinha na Natureza (Spix’s Macaw in the Wild Project). The video and the distinctive vocal calls killed all doubts: it was indeed a Spix’s Macaw. Pedro Develey, SAVE Brasil’s Director, immediately told other project members and organised an emergency trip to Curaçá to locate the bird.


“The local people were euphoric,” said Develey. “They set up groups to locate the bird and control any potential dealers from entering.”


“After two years of us with them they are really proud and hopeful for a reintroduction to save the species.”


This individual’s origin is uncertain, quite possibly came from captivity. Since Sunday there have been no more news concerning the macaw, but the project’s biologists and local residents of Curaçá are now mobilised. The area is very large and some stretches have difficult access, which makes it harder to locate the macaw.



According to Ugo Vercillo, Director of Biodiversity of the Ministry of the Environment, another partner organisation of Ararinha na Natureza project, the fact that a Spix’s Macaw appeared in Curaçá’s region reinforces the necessity of protecting this area. Since 2014, Ararinha na Natureza project has been working to create a 44,000 hectares protected area in the municipality to protect the Caatinga and riparian forests.

There has always been a great expectation of the local community regarding the Spix’s Macaw’s return. This macaw’s sighting relights the population’s hope of seeing one of their greatest prides back in the Caatinga.

Next week, an expedition led by Instituto Chico Mendes para a Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMBio, federal government’s environmental agency responsible for biodiversity conservation) will join the local residents’ efforts on the attempts to locate the bird and obtain the more information as possible.  The expedition is one of the actions of Ararinha na Natureza project, sponsored by Vale, through Fundo Brasileiro para a Biodiversidade (Funbio – Brazilian Fund for Biodiversity).

In parallel to the field efforts, breeding the species in captivity for future reintroduction in the wild is crucial for the project’s success, and counts with the participation of the breeders AWWP (Qatar), ACTP (Germany) and Fazenda Cachoeira (Brazil). Together they maintain 130 Spix’s Macaws and throughout the following years they will provide the first individuals to be reintroduced in Curaçá.

Until the next sighting many questions remain concerning this bird’s origin. How did it reappear in the region? For how long has it been roaming free? How is it adapting to living in the wild? Answers will come in due time. For now just one, thrillingly pleasant thought: a Spix’s Macaw is soaring free, again, in Curaçá’s Caatinga.

“There’s hope again,” said Develey.

For more information contact SAVE Brasil CEO Pedro Develey - (+55) 11 999 133 724.


A photo montage of the last known Spix's Macaw nest, located on the Gangorra Farm, Melancia Creek watershed south of Curaça, Brazil in October 2000, and two Spix's Macaws now residents of the captive breeding program at Lymington Foundation. Photo: parrotsinternational.org

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