Mar 13

Arkive’s Week in Review — Wildlife News ICYMI: Arkive has compiled some of the biggest and most interesting headlines from this week. Article originally published on Friday, Mar 6, 2015

As forests burn, conservationists launch global wildlife rescue


Scarlet macaw landing

Extreme events and long-term warming caused by climate change compound the existing threats to wildlife like habitat loss and degradation. Using small aircraft to detect and map threats like forest fires and illegal clearing can significantly reduce the incidence of severely damaging forest fires. One of many affected forests is that of Guatemala, which is home to the scarlet macaw and the ocellated turkey.

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Ocellated turkey side view

Article originally published on Saturday, Mar 7, 2015

Four large species of snake added to restricted import list


Reticulated python juvenile coiled around sapling

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared that the Beni anaconda, green anaconda, DeSchaunsee’s anaconda, and the reticulated python are “injurious” under the Lacey Act. The Lacey Act prohibits the export, import, buying, selling or acquisition of wildlife and plant species named on the list.

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Green anaconda close up

Article originally published on Sunday, Mar 8, 2015

Back from the brink of extinction: hunting for the world’s rarest frog


Corroboree frog crawling on moss

A research team found only four coroboree frogs within the southern part of New South Wales, its entire range. Recently, experts from Melbourne Zoo and Taronga Zoo along with NSW wildlife officials released 80 frogs into a fungus-free area of New South Wales within Kosciuszko National Park.

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Article originally published on Monday, Mar 9, 2015

Amphibians, already threatened, face increased susceptibility to disease from stress, research shows


Red-legged salamander on leaves

Researchers treated red-legged salamanders with either corticosterone, a stress hormone, or oil. They then exposed them to the chytrid fungus. Researchers found that “stressed” salamanders had a greater abundance of the chytrid fungus.

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Article originally published on Tuesday, Mar 10, 2015

The truth about giant pandas


Infant giant panda portrait

Thinking of the giant panda as cute and cuddly is only half the truth. In reality, the giant panda is a formidable species  who delivers one of the highest bite forces of any carnivore.

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Article originally published on Wednesday, Mar 11, 2015

If apes go extinct, so could entire forests


Male bonobo lying down

Many tree and plant species in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are purely dependent upon the bonobo for seed dispersal. If the bonobos disappeared it could create a cascading extinction cycle.

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Article originally published on Thursday, Mar 12, 2015

World’s whaling slaughter tallied at 3 million


Blue whale underwater

In the last century, nearly 3 million cetaceans were wiped out. Some estimate that blue whales have been depleted by up to 90%. The North Atlantic right whale also hovers on the brink of extinction.

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North Atlantic right whale swimming

Enjoy your weekend! William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA

Jun 11

A flock of scarlet macaws has been released in southern Mexico as part of a reintroduction project to return this charismatic bird to its former range.

Photo of scarlet macaw preening

Although not considered to be globally threatened, the scarlet macaw has almost disappeared from southern Mexico

The macaws were released into the jungles of Aluxes Ecopark, near Palenque National Park in Chiapas, and all 17 individuals so far appear to be doing well. The project comes after years of coordinated efforts between Aluxes Ecopark, Xcaret Ecopark, the Institute of Biology of the University of Mexico (UNAM), and the Mexican environment agency (SEMARNAT).

Macaws under threat

The scarlet macaw is widespread across Central and South America, and is currently classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. However, this vibrantly coloured species has all but disappeared from southern Mexico, mainly due to the destruction of its rainforest habitat and over-collection for the pet trade.

Photo of scarlet macaw in flight, side view

Scarlet macaws are potentially long-lived, reaching ages of 60 years or more

Fortunately for the macaw, forest restoration projects, awareness campaigns and protection of Palenque National Park have significantly reduced tropical rainforest destruction in the region, and the wildlife trade has also declined. Sufficient protection for the scarlet macaw and its habitat means that reintroduction is now a viable option to restore this species to its former range.

Macaw reintroductions

Before the scarlet macaw reintroduction project could go ahead, approval had to first be gained from the relevant authorities. The health and genetics of the captive-bred birds also had to be assessed to ensure that they were suitable for release.

The first macaw reintroduction took place in April, with a second small flock scheduled for release at the end of June. After this, small groups of 10 to 12 birds at a time will be released until a quota of 60 to 70 for this year is met. The reintroductions will then continue until 2015, and if successful will result in a doubling of the species’ current numbers in the region.

Close up photo of scarlet macaws allopreening

The main threats to the scarlet macaw are habitat destruction and the pet trade

Speaking about the reintroduction, Alejandro Estrada, one of the leading researchers from the Institute of Biology at UNAM, explained that they should “create a scarlet macaw corridor that will reconnect the remnant populations with the introduced macaws and will result in a region-wide restoration of the scarlet macaw in its northernmost distribution in the Neotropics.”

Preparing for release

Before the captive-bred scarlet macaws can successfully be released, they need to be trained in how to survive in the wild. This includes housing the birds in groups for several weeks to encourage them to form flocks, as well as training them to recognise wild foods and to avoid predators, including humans.

Once released, the birds will be provided with extra food to supplement their diets as they adjust to foraging for wild foods, which include fruits, nuts, seeds, flowers and leaves. According to Estrada, now that the first birds are living wild, they will be able to act as ‘tutors’ for new flocks, helping them to adapt more quickly.

The released macaws will be tracked over the coming years, to monitor how the reintroduction efforts are going. Artificial nest boxes will also be set up in the release area.

Photo of a flock of scarlet macaws in flight with red and green macaws

Scarlet macaws usually live in pairs or small family groups, which may join together into larger flocks

Encouraging support

The macaw reintroduction efforts have received encouraging support from the Mexican government, which has helped to publicise the species’ return to the wild. Various campaigns have helped to build a sense of local pride in this beautifully coloured bird, and the community around Palenque already appears to be captivated by its reappearance.

Those involved in the project are hopeful that this sense of pride in and concern for the scarlet macaw will also help to develop a greater interest in the conservation of the region’s tropical forests and the other species which inhabit them.


Read more on this story at Mongabay – Flying rainbows: the scarlet macaw returns to Mexico.

Find out more about scarlet macaw conservation at The ARA Project and the Tambopata Macaw Project.

View photos and videos of the scarlet macaw on ARKive.

Liz Shaw, ARKive Text Author


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