Ara glaucogularis


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Ara glaucogularis
Species Authority: Dabbene, 1921
Common Name(s):
English Blue-throated Macaw
Spanish Guacamayo Barbazul, Guacamayo Amarillo, Guacamayo Caninde

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered A2bcde ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2014-07-24
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Hennessey, A., Hesse, A., Tobias, J., Berkunsky, I. & Gilardi, J.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Capper, D., Sharpe, C J, Stuart, T., Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Khwaja, N.
This species qualifies as Critically Endangered because its population is extremely small and each isolated subpopulation is tiny and declining as a result of trade and habitat loss. Overall, it is likely to have undergone an extremely rapid population reduction over the past three generations.

2013 Critically Endangered
2012 Critically Endangered

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Ara glaucogularis is known from the Llanos de Mojos in north Bolivia, being concentrated east of the upper río Mamoré, Beni (Duffield and Hesse 1997, Yamashita and Barros 1997), where the wild population was discovered in 1992. In 2007, the total population was estimated to number 250-300 individuals occupying a range of c.4,000 km2, with 70 individuals discovered at a dry season roost site that year (Waugh 2007). However, information now suggests the population is unlikely to number more than 115 individuals. An estimated 1,200 or more wild-caught birds were exported from Bolivia during the 1980s, suggesting that the population was formerly much higher (Yamashita and Barros 1997).

Bolivia, Plurinational States of
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population size is estimated to number c.110-130 individuals in the wild (J. Gilardi in litt. 2012), roughly equivalent to 73-87 mature individuals.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It utilises forest islands and gallery forest found fragmented throughout the Beni Savannas at an 80:20 ratio. Motacú palm Attalea phalerata is a principal food of all macaws in the area, with abundances ranging from 0-100% in forest islands in the savannas, and borders of gallery forest. It nests in cavities, hatching 1-3 eggs. The species is most frequently found in pairs, but small groups (7-9) do occur and one large roosting group of 70 is known, thought to be made up of non-breeding birds (I. Berkunsky in litt. 2012, J. Gilardi in litt. 2012).

Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): It was severely threatened in the past by legal and illegal exploitation for the national and international cage-bird trade (A. Hesse in litt. 1999, I. Berkunsky in litt. 2012), although this has been radically reduced since 1984 (I. Berkunsky in litt. 2012). All known breeding sites are on private cattle-ranches, where burning and clearing for pasture and tree-felling for fuel and fenceposts have reduced the number of suitable nest trees and inhibited palm regeneration (Duffield and Hesse 1997, Hesse 1998, J. Gilardi in litt. 2012). However, cattle-rearing has occurred in the region since the 17th century (A. Hesse in litt. 1999). Nest-site competition from other macaws, toucans, bats and large woodpeckers is significant, and disturbance from mammals, birds and human activity may reduce the reproductive output of some pairs (J. Gilardi in litt. 2012). Hunting to provide feathers for indigenous headdresses probably has an important impact in some areas (I. Berkunsky in litt. 2012). There are fears that inbreeding within an increasingly fragmented population is resulting in reduced fertility (Loro Parque Fundación 2003).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I. Asociación Armonía/Loro Parque Fundación produced a Blue-throated Macaw Recovery Plan in 2003. Live export from Bolivia was banned in 1984, but illegal export continues (Duffield and Hesse 1997). The Asociación Armonía/Loro Parque Fundación parrot trade monitoring project has recorded reduced levels of trade in the species (B. Hennessey in litt. 2008), but the large scale illegal trade infrastructure in Bolivia means there is the potential to start trapping again if there is a demand. Agreement has been reached with some landowners to control access and deter potential trappers, and negotiations with other landowners continue (Hesse 1998, A. Hesse in litt. 1999). Based on field surveys recommendations have been made that the Paraparau region, Beni department, be given greater conservation priority (Tobias 2003). Much of the remaining population occurs on private ranch-lands. Many landowners are sympathetic to conservation work on their lands and continued support will benefit the species's recovery. The population in captivity (some of which is held in captive-breeding facilities) is many times larger than the wild population. A nest box campaign has been run since 2004 and has found that there is a great demand for suitable nesting cavities. The active management and monitoring of nest box use has helped to reduce the incidence of nest failure (Berkunsky 2010). Work with indigenous people looking for alternatives for headdress macaw feathers is on-going. There has been a widespread education programme, including pamphlets, posters, T-shirts, presentations, short-wave radio spots, video programmes, TV interviews, travel to the most remote ranches giving presentations on laptops, and creation of interpretation centres in the bottle-neck towns of Trinidad, Santa Rosa and Santa Ana. Other measures include on-going surveys of potential areas where populations may persist; a pet trade monitoring programme in two main Bolivian cities, and land acquisition programmes conducted in order to protect key habitat and populations. Asociación Armonía, with the help of the American Bird Conservancy and World Land Trust, completed the purchase of a 3,555 ha private reserve protecting at least 20 Blue-throated Macaw in November 2008 (BirdLife International 2008). The reserve will be used for education, research and tourism and, with the support of Bird Endowment, an additional 100 nest boxes were due to be put in place for the 2008/2009 breeding season (B. Hennessey in litt. 2008). The World Land Trust also carries out nest-box provision, as well as the feeding of nestlings and other manipulations. In 2009 a formal agreement was signed between the Loro Parque Fundación, Asociación Armonía, the Zoo Fauna Sudamericana and the Noel Kempff Mercado Natural History Museum which formalises the initiation of a managed cooperative breeding programme in Bolivia (Anon. 2008). It was hoped that by the end of 2012 the first birds would be moved from the U.S.A. to Bolivia, as part of a repatriation programme initiated by the World Parrot Trust (Berkunsky 2010, I. Berkunsky in litt. 2012). A monitoring project was also planned to track movements during the breeding and non-breeding seasons.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue nest guarding and monitoring. Expand, monitor and improve nest boxes and the captive-breeding programme. Continue illegal pet trade monitoring and confiscations of all native parrots from traders. Lobby local and national government regarding illegal pet trade. Research and promote the acquisition of land for Blue-throated Macaw's long-term conservation, studies into habitat requirements and restoration, and sustainable tourism support. Continue wide-ranging education programmes, especially in Santa Rosa y Santa Ana area - supported by interpretive centres. Develop alternatives and controls to macaw feather headdress usage. Develop tourism infrastructure on private reserve land to sustainably support protecting areas, and to control the negative impact Blue-throated Macaw tourism can have throughout the area. Maintain a low level of population monitoring and occasional new surveys. Field research to identify principal health threats.

Citation: BirdLife International 2014. Ara glaucogularis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 03 September 2015.
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