Recently reintroduced red-and-green macaws have produced the first successful wild chicks in the Iberá wetlands in 150 years. Extinct throughout Argentina, the return of this species is also a key step in restoring native forests to this valuable ecosystem.
After several unsuccessful attempts, three red-and-green macaw hatchlings were born to a breeding pair reintroduced in 2019. The last registry of the species in Argentina was 150 years ago.
Rewilding the red-and-green macaw (Ara chloropterus) has proved an exceptional challenge. Rewilding Argentina, the strategic partner of Tompkins Conservation, started the process in 2015 with once-captive macaws that had never flown before. They required extensive training to live in the wild. So far, 15 macaws have been set free in Iberá and the nascent population is prospering.
Sebastian Di Martino, Conservation Director at Rewilding Argentina, is hopeful that the species will again fulfill its ecological role and help revitalize the forest of Paraná.
“Macaws are seed dispersers for many plant species, especially those with larger seed pods,” according to Di Martino. “They fly great distances and can disperse seeds in a huge range. This is particularly important in Iberá, where vegetative islets are isolated by a matrix of wetlands difficult for other seed dispersers to cross.”
This new population is the latest milestone in the restoration of one of the world’s largest wetlands which suffered decades of degradation under cattle grazing and surrounding monoculture plantations. Located in Northeast Argentina, the creation of Iberá National Park in 2018 was prompted by land donations made by Tompkins Conservation, in collaboration with local and national authorities.
Rewilding species is a critical action in combating the global biodiversity crisis. Through the return of top predators such as the jaguar and the giant river otter, and seed bearers such as peccary and macaws, this ecosystem is making a significant recovery. Rewilding also represents a key opportunity for local communities whose economies have been revitalized through wildlife-watching tourism.
A driving force to curb the worldwide climate emergency and the biodiversity crisis, Tompkins Conservation has spent nearly three decades working to rewild a healthy planet with big, wild, and connected landscapes where human communities, animals and plants can thrive.
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