With so much abundant and diverse wildlife in Costa Rica, one of the world’s most popular ecotourism destinations, it’s hard to imagine that there could be something missing. Until recently, however, there was: The Great Green Macaw. This spectacular Central American Parrot, identified as a species “most in need of protection,” is internationally endangered primarily due to habitat loss. Those who reside or vacation in Costa Rica will be happy to know that the beautiful Great Green Macaws can once again be spotted in the rainforest in Costa Rica.
The ARA project, a non profit organization which dedicates itself to the conservation of the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) and the Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus) is responsible for bringing these endangered species back to the Costa Rica wildlife. A licensed zoological park, the ARA Project Breeding Centre is located in the Central Valley and works closely with MINAE (Ministry of the Environment and Energy and Telecommunications) to execute their controlled release programs while abiding by Costa Rica wildlife laws. They utilize a variety of breeding techniques, environmental studies, and aviary management for captive breeding and release into the wild. The ARA’s breeding center hosts the largest collection of captive Great Green Macaws worldwide.
Recently, in 2011, the ARA project executed the first Great Green Macaw reintroduction in the world and released 10 Great Green Macaws at the Manzanillo release site, located on the Southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. The release projects and breeding programs are ongoing and the ARA Project will continue to monitor the released macaws and contribute to conservation and scientific research on these magnificent birds. Since 1999 the ARA project has released over 80 scarlet macaws who have successfully reproduced and have a survival rate close to 90%. The Great Green Macaw release is expected to produce similar results. The macaws are bred for release only and the breeding center hosts nearly 100 Great Green Macaws and 100 Scarlet Macaws.
The ARA project also offers the opportunity to volunteer and be personally involved in the conservation and release of the Macaws, either in the breeding center, or a release site. Interested volunteers should remember that working and living in the tropics can be challenging due to the hot and wet tropical climate and the variety of animals and insects found in the rainforest. For more information on volunteering or making donations, please visit http://www.thearaproject.org/donate.php.