Dozens of last Spix’s macaws to be reintroduced to Brazil

Spix’s macaws were last seen in the wild in 1990. (AFP pic)

BRASÍLIA: About 50 of the last Spix’s macaws will be reintroduced to the wild in Brazil from captivity in Europe, officials said on Saturday.

Brazilian Environment Minister Edson Duarte is due in Brussels on Sunday to sign the agreement with Belgium and Germany for bringing the birds back in the first quarter of next year, the ministry said in a statement.

The Spix’s macaw originates from northeastern Brazil but is considered extinct in the wild, with only scores remaining in captivity. The medium-sized bird sports feathers in a variety of shades of blue.

It was last seen in the wild in 1990, according to the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots (ACTP), which works with the Brazilian government on the project to revive the species.

The current batch of survivors being repatriated from Europe will initially stay in special center due to open in Berlin next Thursday, where they will be prepared for the transition.

They will then move to a 29-hectare reintroduction centre in a conservation area of Brazil’s northeastern state of Bahia, with the first being released into the wild in 2021.

Brazil’s environment ministry said that international breeding programs for the birds in captivity have seen the population grow from 79 in 2012 to 158 this year.

The ACTP says that the current population must be increased to become sustainable long term. Other needed measures include preparing the local population for coexistence in Brazil’s Caatinga region, where the birds come from originally, the group says.

Destruction of habitat and capture for trafficking are the main reasons for the near-disappearance of the birds.