A Cry Making The Feathers Fly
This parrot is up to 90 cm tall, lives in Central and South America and has a beautiful green and blue plumage. And it is because of this beautiful plumage that Great Green Macaws are hunted or illegally traded as pets. Their greatest threat, however, is the loss of their habitat: This macaw is associated with the mountain almond tree, an endangered plant that is nevertheless being cut down. There are now only about 500 to 1000 Great Green Macaws left in the wild.
By Stefanie Rach
“Kids, come closer. Move over and make some room on the branch. Grandma Macaw will tell you another of her stories. Come, come!
Today I want to tell you about the time when I was as young as you are now. Yes, that was a while ago. Back then, a good 50 years ago or more, the world looked different. At that time, you could fly up to the huge mountains at the end of the horizon and all you could see below you was our forest. I remember one day gliding over the big mountain almond trees when suddenly a beautiful macaw burst out of them in a steep flight. He passed me, made a bow in the clouds and came back to me to ask me to dance. Yes, that day I met your grandfather. And heavens, he could dance! We twirled through the air, and I felt the wind in my feathers. I watched some of you young Macaws trying to dance – and believe me, you all still need to practice!
A year later I laid our first clutch of eggs. We chose our nest cavity well, but in the end not well enough. Two chicks hatched one day. Your grandfather brought us the juiciest fruits, the biggest nuts and the best-smelling flowers to eat. And when our chicks grew bigger, I was finally able to accompany him in his search for food. But when we came back, on a day that began as wonderfully as any before, our chicks were gone. Gone! And not only ours. We heard from other macaws, whose chicks also disappeared. We mourned for three years before we were ready to try again to start a family.”
“Hello everyone and welcome, dear volunteers! I am the coordinator of the educational program of our macaw conservation project. The next few days you will be working with me. I grew up in one of the villages in this area and since I was a child, I roamed the forests to see the beautiful macaws. They are part of my home and that is why I am here, to protect my home as I knew it as a child. And you are going to help me!
We will organize a workshop for locals from some of the surrounding villages to inspire them to protect the Great Green Macaw. The goal is to further develop eco-tourism, bird watching and guided tours. In the long run this will bring new jobs and additional income to the communities. By engaging them in conservation in this way, hopefully poaching will decrease. Great Green Macaw feathers are very popular and are traded on the black market. Chicks are stolen from the nests to keep the macaws as exotic pets. The poachers’ middlemen, informants and helpers often belong to the poorer members of the communities. And this is exactly where we will intervene!
After the workshop we will visit two schools: There you can tell the kids about your tasks here in the macaw conservation project and explain why it is so important to protect the Great Green Macaw: that macaws feed on fruits and their seeds are distributed in their droppings all over the forest and that they thereby help to regenerate the rainforest. You can create your own educational material for the kids, you can draw and do handicrafts with them, or you can think up some games. The main thing is that both you and the kids will have fun, and everyone will learn something.”
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