Other Animals

My March 2023 post was about the significant work being done in Costa Rica to save the critically endangered Great Green Macaw. While the largest population currently exists there, nearby Colombia is doing its part to sustain this species through the work of the Horizon Conservation Foundation. Mónica Franco, Co-founder, and Executive Director, describes their work best.

Current Situation

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Two Great Green Macaws perch side-by-side in their native Columbia. Photo courtesy of Horizon Conservation Foundation.

Colombia is the second most biodiverse country in the world, and the first in diversity of birds. Data shows that the official number of birds registered in the country is up to 1,954 species (20% of the global total).

As well as Costa Rica, Colombia is also home to the magnificent Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus), the second largest parrot to the hyacinth macaw. However, the population Great Green Macaws in Colombia is estimated to be less than 100 mature individuals.


green macaw, great green macaw
One reason for the Great Green Macaw’s decline is a reduction in almond trees in its native habitat. Photo courtesy Horizon Conservation Foundation.

The Great Green Macaw in Colombia is facing significant challenges that are causing its population to decline. The main reasons for this decline are habitat loss and poaching for the pet trade. Over the past few generations, Colombia’s population of Great Green Macaws has decreased by 50 to 79%. In Colombia and Costa Rica, one of the key factors contributing to the decline of the Great Green Macaw is the logging of almond trees. These trees are cut down for their wood, and this activity is closely linked to the reduction in the macaw population.

Another important issue affecting the Great Green Gacaw in Colombia is the lack of knowledge and conservation actions about the species. Most of the information available comes from studies conducted in Costa Rica. However, we still have much to learn about their behavioral and ecological traits and engage the community in species conservation.

Our Project

Photo courtesy of Paramillo from Horizon Conservation Foundation

Horizon Conservation has been developing the Great Green Macaw Conservation Project since 2022 in Colombia. The objective is to determine the number of macaws, their distribution, and the threats that face this critically endangered species in two areas in Colombia; Paramillo (Caribbean region) and Utria National Park (Pacific region).

Despite the grim scenario for the species, there is also good news! Last year, through the first international census, 12 individuals were found in an area of Paramillo National Park, where there was no official report from 2009. Also, we were able to locate a feeding area and two possible nesting sites for the species, which is extremely important to understand how the Great Green Macaw is using the available resources in the area to survive.

Regarding our social work with the local communities, we are identifying alternatives to engage them with the macaw’s conservation through 1) community-based sustainable Livelihoods, 2) education and awareness, 3) capacity building and 4) woman empowerment.

  • Community-based Sustainable Livelihoods: training the community in organic farming, artwork, and ecotourism. These initiatives can provide alternative sources of income while promoting the protection of macaw habitats.
  • Education and Awareness: Develop educational programs that target the specific needs of the local communities, providing environmental education tailored to their daily lives and the importance of macaw conservation.

Thanks to Lafeber’s grant, Horizon Conservation will carry out the community-based conservation initiative about Great Green Macaw in Paramillo; reaching out to kids and adults and building a strong and significant network of collaboration, with the community, by the community, and for the Great Green Macaw conservation.  Learn more about the good works of Horizon Conservation and how you can help.

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