- Twenty years after the species was officially declared extinct in nature, 52 Spix’s macaws (Cyanopsitta spixii) arrived in Brazil’s Bahia state for eventual reintroduction back into their native habitat.
- But controversy surrounds the program, stemming from the organization providing the captive-bred birds: the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots, whose founder, Martin Guth, has been accused of running a private collection linked to wildlife trafficking and organized crime.
- The ACTP is footing the bill for the Spix’s macaw reintroduction program, including building a $1.4 million facility in Bahia, but it’s not clear where the money is coming from. The Brazilian government, as a partner in the program, has also not provided details about the terms of the agreement, and is reportedly pressuring local breeders to send their birds to the ACTP in Germany.
- The birds are slated for released into the wild in 2021, after a process of adaptation, into two conservation areas established specifically for the Spix’s macaw in Bahia.
The town of Curaçá in Brazil’s of Bahia state lost its last wild Spix’s macaws (Cyanopsitta spixii) two decades ago. So there was a large celebration when, on March 3 this year, 52 of the parrots, bred in captivity, were brought back here to their native region. The macaw was declared extinct in the wild in 2000, a victim of wildlife trafficking and symbol of the ongoing struggle to conserve Brazil’s biodiversity.
But there’s a shadow hanging over their return, cast by the controversial organization that bred them and continues to wield outsize influence over their fate.
The birds brought to Bahia (26 males and 26 females) are the result of a successful captive-breeding program by the Germany-based Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots e. V. (ACTP), which has partnered with the Brazilian government. The event was considered so important that the minister of the environment, Ricardo Salles, was in Petrolina, Pernambuco state, to receive the macaws alongside ACTP head Martin Guth and other Brazilian authorities.