Armonía's Conservation Efforts To Save the Bolivian Red-fronted Macaw


Macaws are found only in the new world, stretching from Mexico through Central America, across South America down to northern Argentina. The diversity of macaws is greatest in the rainforests of South America, where, in some places, five species occur together. From this humid starting point, several species have evolved out of the forest to specialize on other habitat types in South America. Not surprisingly, these more specialized macaws, adapted for a more specific habitat, comprise the majority of the threatened, extinct in the wild or extinct macaw species.

Two of these macaw species with highly evolved specialized lifestyles exist exclusively within Bolivia’s political boundary. The Blue-throated Macaw (Ara glaucogularis) is found only in the lowland seasonally flooded savannas of Beni in northeast Bolivia. The Red-fronted Macaw (Ara rubrogenys) is found in the dry Andean valleys mostly in the department of Cochabamba in
central Bolivia.

The Andes Mountains split Bolivia down the center from north to south. For most of South America, the eastern slope of the Andes is a moist, rich place, thick with epiphytes and bromeliads that make up the dense cloud forest habitat. In Bolivia, the Andes cut out to an elbow near the center of the country, dividing weather patterns; moist to the north and dry below.

The Eastern slope of the Andes below the elbow, demarcated by the city of Santa Cruz, is a region as close to the definition of desert that one can find in Bolivia. This area is the most diverse in the country for cacti. Plants here are well adapted to extended dry periods. Diversity and abundances of other plant life are severely reduced to the point that large expanses of emptiness are the norm. This hilly area of frequent silence is also the selected home of the specialized Red-fronted Macaw.