Wednesday 28 March 2012
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Macaw Conservation in Costa Rica

The ARA Project is a Costa Rican licensed zoological park and non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of the two native macaw species of Costa Rica: the endangered Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus) and the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao).

Chris Castles looks at a baby great green macaw at a nursery of the ARA Project in Alajuela.

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The ARA Project operates a breeding program and reintroduction projects in conjunction with MINAET (Costa Rican Ministry of Environment, Energy & Telecommunications).

The breeding centre's only purpose is captive breeding for release in the wild. The breeding centre is situated in Alajuela, the central valley. Visits and tours can be arranged by appointment.

The ARA Project has been breeding macaws since the 1980s and releasing macaws since the 1990s. The ARA Project's breeding center has the largest collection of Great Green Macaws in captivity in the world.

Between 1999 and 2012, The ARA Project released over 80 Scarlet Macaws in the project's Scarlet Macaw release sites. These macaws have survival rates close to 90% and have successfully reproduced. In 2011, the first Great Green Macaws were released in the Manzanillo release site. It is the first Great Green Macaw reintroduction in the world. The breeding program and release projects are ongoing.

The ARA Project continues the work of Amigos de las Aves but with a new approach to the project. New objectives are: to create conservation education programs in communities surrounding release sites, protecting natural populations, contributing to biological corridor conservation, developing a Great Green Macaw reintroduction program, and incorporating more national biologists and staff.

The overall objectives are:
• To participate in macaw conservation through captive breeding and reintroduction
• To continue monitoring released macaws at the release sites
• To contribute to scientific research on macaw conservation
• To enhance breeding center facilities (nursery, aviaries, enrichment etc.)
• To continue cooperation with other (macaw) conservation organizations
• To develop & promote conservation education
• To establish a biological corridor for the Scarlet Macaw along the Pacific Coast, linking populations



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