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The Dry Season is upon us….

Project update: Monday, 29 June 2009

July marks the beginning of Bolivia’s winter, which is also the dry season. Within the Armonia/ Loro Parque Fundacion Blue-throated Macaw conservation program we usually finish our reproduction part of the project by now. I say usually, because at this point we normally would wrap up our nest box breeding monitoring, but this year we had one pair lay two eggs in May, and now two chicks sit in our nesting box. We have had to extend the program for this tardy pair.

Blue-throated Macaw chicks © B Hennessey

Blue-throated Macaw chicks © B Hennessey

Our big push right now for the Blue-throated Macaw is the beginning of our work with our 7,000 acre Barba Azul Nature Reserve, created last year. We bought this reserve as the first protected area for the Blue-throated Macaw, thanks from support from American Bird Conservancy, and World Land Trust-US. We have been waiting for this remote area to dry up so we can get out there and put some of our wonderful land management ideas into practice. We removed over 200 years of cattle grazing from the land last December, and now look forward to seeing how the habitat will recuperate.

I had had high hopes of having a tourism lodge built on the reserve by now, but the global economic crisis brought my dreams down to a more sober reality. We need around $70,000 dollars to create the first part of  the lodge that would consist of simple cabins for eight people and an eating area. We could name this lodge after the donor if desired. This lodge will fit so well with our Red-fronted Macaw lodge.

Starting early July we will build a simple bathroom complex for visitors and house for our reserve manager. By mid-July, a group of Glasgow University researchers will visit our reserve for a month to conduct the first baseline study of the mammals, birds, plant communities and reptiles for the area. We are very fortunate to have this free in-depth research, with funds to train Bolivian students as the ideal first step to reserve management. We need to know what is there, so we can figure out how best to protect it. In August, the famous Neotropical mammal expert and author of Neotropical Rainforest Mammals Louise Emmons will be studying the Maned Wolf population in the reserve and we will also conduct a thorough tourism evaluation and development plan. We had hoped to raise another $ 15,000 to start a Palm Forest Island creation program, but we have not been able to find a supporter for this project. Since the Blue-throated Macaw lives and breeds in palm islands, we want to create more islands in the area.

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