Last Updated: May 30, 2013 3:18 pm
NEW YORK—It was the last leg of their journey. Daniel Kopulos and the other members of the Scarlet Macaw Project had eaten nothing but tortillas for the past couple of days. The forestry department had just battled a forest fire and needed to be fed, which meant food supplies for Kopulos’s team had become dangerously low.
But, they pushed onward, climbing trees and hiking six hours a day in Guatemalan jungles to save critically endangered birds. And it was all worth it.
The scarlet macaws of the Mayan Biosphere is an avian species that only has 300 members living in the wild. Since the project began in 2001, the macaw population has doubled.
Kopulos leaves Fauna, his exotic pet shop in the Upper West Side, for a month every year to travel to Guatemala for the project.
“It’s worth it because the people really appreciate it,” Kopulos said.“ Most people who work there have to leave their families for three to four months at a time to do this work because they don’t live in that area.”
He and the other members of the Scarlet Macaw Project bring medical supplies, equipment, as well as training to assist with nest protection, artificial nest construction, chick rearing, veterinary monitoring, and education initiatives. They also work to save the endangered Mesoamerican river turtles and jaguars in the area.
“The country’s people are so humble, they are so willing to help each other out,” Kopulos said.
Kopulos, himself, is also remarkably humble.