Archived 2010-2011 topics: Military Macaw (Ara militaris): request for information

Link to BirdLife species factsheet for Military Macaw

Military Macaw Ara militaris is listed as Vulnerable under criteria A2c,d; A3c,d; A4c,d on the basis that a population decline equivalent to 30-49% over 10 years is suspected in the past and projected in the future, owing to habitat loss and harvesting for the pet trade (Snyder et al. 2000).

Recently it has been noted that the species appears to be rarely traded in Bolivia, where good numbers are protected in five national parks (B. Hennessey in litt.). This raises the question of whether the population is still in rapid decline, although the species occupies a very large range, and data are required from all or most range states. Improved knowledge of the species’s life history means that the trend should be estimated for a period of 38 years (estimate of three generations).

Up-to-date information is requested on this species, in particular the likely rate of population decline and severity of threats.

Snyder, N., McGowan, P., Gilardi, J. and Grajal, A. (2000) Parrots: status survey and conservation action plan 2000-2004. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

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4 Responses to Archived 2010-2011 topics: Military Macaw (Ara militaris): request for information

  1. In Mexico, the military macaw is still one of the most sought after parrots for the illegal trade. From 1995-2005 it was the fifth most seized Mexican parrot species (21-22 species in Mexico depending on the author) by the Environmental Enforcement Agency (PROFEPA) (see Cantú et al 2007), just beneath seizures of Aratinga canicularis, Amazona albifrons, Amazona autumnalis and Aratinga nana. Data from PROFEPA from 2007 to 2010 shows that the military macaw’s seizures surpassed those of Aratinga nana becoming the fourth most seized parrot species.
    Although a trade ban was decreed in October 2008, illegal trade is still one of the most important threats for this species. The latest review of official norm that lists species at risk in Mexico (NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010) maintained the Endangered status for the species.

    Cantú, J.C., M.E. Sánchez, Grosselet, M. and Silva, J. 2007. The Illegal Trade of Parrots in Mexico. A Comprehensive Assessment Defenders of Wildlife. Washington. 75 pp

  2. A new population of this species was recorded from two localities at the Catatumbo-Barí National Park in the Colombian-Venezuelan border, extending the previous species’ range from the east slope of the Serranía de Perijá southwards (Avendaño in litt). This species and other Ara Macaws are occasionally hunted by indigenous people. However, I think that if this occasional hunting is concentrated around indigenous hamlets (no more that 15 whithin c. 160.000 ha that form the National Park), hunting preassure does not represent a serious short-term threat. The real threat in the area is the increasing deforestation and coca plantations surrounding the Catatumbo-Barí National Park.

    New locality data:
    Colombia, Norte de Santander department, Catatumbo-Barí NP:
    1) Tibú municipality, Caño Brandy (8º39′N, 72º42′W)
    2) Convención municipality, vereda Honduras, quebrada El Diamante (8º51′N, 73º14′W)

  3. Although this species can be found in many places, in my encounters with the bird in Peru and Mexico, populations tend to be relatively small and isolated. Specific information on numbers of active nest sites may be especially important for interpreting observations of total numbers of birds in any given population. Having been pursued by trappers for many decades as Mr. Cantu rightly points out, there are now whole breeding populations in Mexico which have been completely eliminated.

  4. Andy Symes says:

    Fundacion ProAves have provided the following information from the species’s Colombian range:

    This is a borderline case. The species is traded and its habitat is being lost, but there are still areas with strong populations as reported in Bolivia. However, with the proposed measure of three generations at 38 years, we consider that the population decline over that past period has probably exceeded 50% of the population (EN A2a+c) as threats have not ceased and probably may not be reversible (key food sources and the effects of bird trade may take centuries to return). The future 38 years may see declines of between 30-50% at the present rate of threats (populations contained within National parks and tightening wildlife controls are required). One subpopulation in the Cauca valley (<50 mature birds) may shortly be lost as a dam will flood the sole breeding cliff. We know of only two presumed “stable” relict populations of A. militaris: around the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (<50 mature birds) and Churumbelos, Cauca (>50 mature birds).

    Fundacion ProAves (in press) The status of various threatened or potentially threatened birds in Colombia. Conservación Colombiana 14

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