Artificial nests help conserve great green macaws in Panama’s rainforests

Marea, Panama, Aug 23 (EFE).- A non-governmental organization in Panama has found an innovative way to help the conservation of the great green macaw, a parrot native to Central America in critical danger of extinction due to the destruction of its habitat and illegal trade.

Griselda Grajales, an indigenous women and mother of two, is one of the many locals of the rainforest participating in the Adopt a Panama Rainforest Association’s initiative to place artificial nests on treetops for the parrots.

Native to Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, great green macaws live in mature forests and usually rest in tree cavities on treetops no lower than 35 meters high.

“Their natural habitat is very particular as they require large areas of virgin, mature forest in order to thrive,” director of the NGO, Guido Berguido, tells Efe.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN), there are fewer than 3,700 great green macaws left.

The dramatic decline is a result of logging and deforestation of land for agriculture and livestock farming as well as a growing black market for illegal trade of the rare species.

“They (illegal traders) look for chicks. A local farmer or indigenous person sells a chick for 500 or $1,000, but outside the rainforest they can cost up to $20,000,” Berguido says.

Another major obstacle for the survival of green macaws is nesting.

“Great green macaws nest in tree cavities. They do not have the ability to drill and depend on natural cavities, which can only be found in trees that are practically rotten. This is a threat, because any natural or human element can bring the tree down,” Berguido, who is also a biologist, explains.

The artificial nests designed by Adopta are cylindrical plastic tanks with a capacity of almost 190 liters. The nests mimic a tree cavity and are filled with specific material for the birds to nest in.

“Because they are used to nesting in cavities, this is natural for them, with the great advantage that they will be able to use the artificial nest for up to 30 years,” the scientist and activist says.

The project is based in the community of Marea, a remote village located in the jungle province of Darien, which can only be reached via the river.

A team of local residents of the rainforest have been trained to climb very tall trees using professional ropes. They are also responsible for the maintenance of the nests and monitoring of the birds.

“You have to have a lot of strength to climb. But I like it, I’m scared but I still do it because the conservation of the macaws is very important,” Grajales, 24, tells Efe.

“I was born to the sound of the birds,” she adds. EFE


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