After 50 Years of being Extinct, from Xcaret the First Flock of Scarlet Macaws Arrives to Palenque to be Freed



Arriving from Xcaret, Quintana Roo, a group of 27 Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao) has arrived to the Aluxes ecological park, as an ambicious liberation program is launched at the Palenque National Park, where this species has been extinct for the past 50 years.

The macaws, ranging between 12 years and 24 months of age, are healthy specimens born as a result of the reproduction program operated by Xcaret since 1994 and which, starting today, begin their preparation stage for a definite liberation on April 2013.

The delivery of the macaws was entrusted to biologist Rodolfo Raigoza Figueras, Wild Fauna Manager at Xcaret park. On the receiving end the participants were Dr. Salomón González, President of Acajungla A.C. Dr. Alejandro Estrada, researcher for the Biology Institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and coordinator of the liberation program in Chiapas, as well as María de Lourdes Silva García, General Director of the Aluxes Ecopark in Palenque.

This event is the pinnacle of more than 18 years of efforts to achieve the reproduction and healthy growth of the Scarlet Macaw specimens, with the purpose of contributing to the preservation of such a representative species of Mexican wild fauna.

Due to their beautiful colored feathers, for many years the macaw has been captured and sold illegally in such a scale that has become a species in danger of extinction. Today there are more than 1,000 specimens of scarlet macaws at Xcaret as a result of the Park´s successful reproduction program, while in their natural habitat, in the southeast of Mexico and Central America, there is a total population of less than 400 macaws.

With the financial backing of Acajungla A.C. and the technical support from the UNAM Biology Institute, studies were carried out to identify the genetic compatibility between the population of scarlet macaws in the alternative habitat at the Park and those in their natural habitat. Samples were taken from the chick population and the breeding stock from the Xcaret program, as well as some from adult macaws at the Aluxes Ecopark in Palenque, and at Montes Azules natural park. The results from this study confirmed that the population at Xcaret is from the sub-species Ara macao cyanoptera which was the one that existed some decades ago in the Palenque region.

Juan Cornejo, ornithologist and research scholar in curator science for the Bronx Zoo in New York and the Wildlife Conservation Society, is the consultant for the project through a series of tests on the health of the macaws as well as in observing and monitoring the species for their adaptation process to the natural surroundings.

From their arrival to Palenque, the 27 macaws will go through an adaptation process to their new surroundings as well as activities to help them recognize their food sources in the wild, identify natural predators, get to know the areas for shelter in the trees, as well as learning how to fly freely. This group is the first of three, the other two will arrive to Chiapas during 2013 to make up a group of a total of 60 specimens which will adopt 123 acres of the Aluxes park and almost 1, 1,976 acres of the Palenque National Park, located 1.2 miles from the first, as their new home.

The liberation program will be accompanied by an important effort to create awareness among the local population in order to guarantee the feasibility of this specie´s survival in the region by averting the capture and illegal trading of the specimens and promoting the preservation of their natural habitat.

During the event, a group of children from the “Diego de Quevedo” school made a public commitment to care for the scarlet macaws and prevent harm to the new population that will soon be liberated. As part of the awareness campaign that has been put into motion in the community to protect the scarlet macaws, Palenque born musician Fernando Camacho composed the song “Vamos a Conservar” (Let us Preserve) dedicated to this species, and was interpreted at the event by Jonathan Guzac.

For further information:

Iliana Rodríguez 
Chief Communications Officer 
Experiencias Xcaret 
Mobile: 044 (998) 845-5644

For more info, contact:
Experiencias Xcaret

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