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Extinction Watch: Saving the Macaw, one headdress at a time

Scientific classification: Ara glaucogularis

The species is also known as the Caninde macaw or Wagler’s macaw and is a macaw endemic to a small area of north-central Bolivia, known as Los Llanos de Moxos.

It is a large parrot and plumage on its upper parts and long tail is turquoise. Its under parts are bright yellow. Until 2010, it was hunted by natives to make feathered “Moxeño” headdresses for “machetero” ritual dances.

The dancer dedicate their movements and attire to the colours of nature. Their headdresses are made of macaw tail feathers from four different species, including the Blue-throated Macaw.

An educational campaign that began in 2010 promoted the use of artificial feathers which has made a big difference in saving the macaws.

“Each headdress is made of an average of 30 central tail feathers; that means that one headdress of artificial feathers saves at least 15 macaws,” explained Gustavo Sánchez Avila, Armonía’s Conservation Programme coordinator for the Bluethroated Macaw in Trinidad.

Still, the species is listed on the IUCNRed Listas criticallyendangered. Recent population and range estimates suggest that only about 350–400 individuals remain in the wild. This species is one of the rarest in the world.

Macaws are monogamous, remaining bonded for life. While feeding, these birds drop seeds and play an important role in forest regeneration.


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