The last Spix's macaw disappears
The World's Rarest Parrot - Disappears from the Wild!
December 1, 2000, Brasilia
– The Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Natural Renewable Resources
(IBAMA) has informed the conservation community that the last known wild
Spix’s Macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii) has disappeared. The Spix’s Macaw
(also known as the Little Blue Macaw) is considered one of the world’s most
endangered species. Until its disappearance, only one remaining male was known
to exist in the wild – only in one small arid region of savanna scrubland in
Northeastern Brazil known as the “caatinga”.
It is estimated that the last Spix’s Macaw is approximately 19 years of
age, so there is great fear that he might have succumbed to a predator or died
of an age related illness. He had been observed avoiding hawks in the past year.
It is not known how long this species lives in the wild. But, if its
disappearance is confirmed, the Spix’s Macaw will once again be considered
extinct in the wild.
the re-discovery of this last single bird in 1990, the species was thought to
have disappeared. Its rediscovery gave researchers a second chance to study it
– as until then, there was little known about this species in the wild. Also
at that time, the Brazilian wildlife authorities formed the Permanent Committee
for the Recovery of the Spix’s Macaw. The Committee is a diverse group
comprised of government officials, ornithologists, zoo specialists, as well as
national and international holders of birds in captivity. The mission of this
Committee was to save this species from extinction and coordinating the field
and the captive breeding program.
The Ararinha Azul Project
(Little Blue Macaw Project) was established by this Committee to study this
species in the wild. Researchers of the project have been monitoring this bird for the last ten years,
studying its natural history and working with the community in conservation.
They last reported seeing the bird (which is a male) 56 days ago. On a positive
note, it appears that there might have been a sighting of this magnificent blue
bird less than a month ago by a local farmer. As this is the dry season, there
is a possibility that he might have moved to another area in search of food.
Therefore, IBAMA and researchers of the project are mounting an intensive search
of the region. Three teams made up of researchers and local woodsmen known as
“mateiros” will search the area for information and sightings of this last
last Spix’s macaw had come to symbolize the region and the people of this
area. The conservation program has developed into a model of community
conservation in this economically distressed region, incorporating local needs
with the conservation effort. Projects supported by the Committee have included
the building of rural schoolhouses, a hunger relief campaign during a severe
drought, range and livestock management extension courses, and even the
restoration of a century old theater. Because of this positive community
support, it is believed that if the last wild bird disappeared, it is due to
natural biological causes and not to trappers.
only a single bird in the wild, the recovery of the Spix’s Macaw has always
depended on the success or failure of the captive breeding program. Through
collaboration between the participants throughout the world, the population has
steadily increased to sixty birds (fifty-four are captive-hatched). The program
is administered as a single global population with five breeding facilities
throughout the world.
The information that the field researchers
gathered by studying the last wild bird will be critical to eventually
reintroducing captive-bred birds to the area. Therefore, even if the last wild
bird is lost, he will have provided much information and insight into how this
species survives. This knowledge should help researchers eventually establish a
new wild population. With the support
from the captive-breeding program, a reintroduction effort is planned for the
near future. There is still hope that the bird known as the Spix’s (Little
Blue) macaw will once again fly in the wild “caatinga” habitat of Brazil.
2000 - 2005
Natasha Schischakin All Rights Reserved