The macaw family was originally composed of 14 species of American origin; unfortunately, six of them are now extinct. Colombia has 6 the Macaw species, of which two appear on the Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and in the Red Books of Threatened Species of Colombia.
Macaws are distributed in the lowlands of the Caribbean plains and throughout the Orinoco-Amazon region; also in the inter-Andean valleys of Cauca and Magdalena, in the Pacific region of the Colombian Darién, and the foothills of the Cordilleras. They feed mainly on seeds and depend on the existence of trees or hollow palms in the forest to reproduce.
Despite being listed in appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES), Macaws are one of most trafficked groups of birds in Colombia as pets, due to their size and the striking colors.
The illegal trafficking of wildlife diminishes biodiversity of a species by reducing both population size and genetic diversity, making it more vulnerable to extinction. Ecosystem complexity is also damaged.
Aware of this situation, Fundación ProAves and Jerónimo Martins group (Tiendas Ara in Colombia) signed an agreement for the second time to strengthen the monitoring and conservation of these species in the area of influence of two ProAves Reserves: El Dorado ProAves Reserve, located in the Colombian Caribbean region around Santa Marta where the Green Macaw (Ara militaris) lives, and Tití Cabeciblanco ProAves Reserve in the Colombian Darien region under the jurisdiction of the Mutatá municipalities in Antioquia and Carmen de Darién in Chocó, with the Great Lemon Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus), the Red-and-Green Macaw (Ara chloropterus), the Cariseca (Chestnut-fronted) Macaw (Ara severus) and the Blue-and-Yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna). These actions are expected to evaluate the conservation status of the macaws, reduce their vulnerability and strengthen environmental awareness.
Macaws, one of the most trafficked groups of birds in Colombia
Illegal wildlife trafficking ranks as the fourth most profitable illegal activity worldwide, after drugs, arms, and human trafficking. Besides diminishing wild species, this trafficking is a high-risk factor for public health because it exposes humans to new pathogens, which can trigger epidemics.
Colombia, with its cardinal biodiversity, is not immune to this potential scourge. Although wildlife trafficking is a crime in the Colombian Penal Code, there is still a great demand for animals, not only internally (due to the deeply rooted practice of acquiring wild animals as pets, but through trafficking from Colombia to other countries.
We have no scientifically precise information on illegal wildlife trafficking and no real knowledge of the dynamics of this trade. However, according to the newspaper El Tiempo, Colombian officials and wildlife rescue groups rescued more than 23,000 animals from traffickers. According to Dinero Magazine, the global industry of this activity could be generating more than the US $22 billion a year.