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El Manantial: A Refuge for Costa Rica’s Endangered Macaws

Visit the El Manantial Macaw SanctuaryIllegal trade of endangered wildlife is on the rise, amounting to as much as $10 billion a year in illegal activity and doing immeasurable harm to the delicate ecosystems from which these rare species are removed.  In Latin America, trade in exotic parrots has spiked, thanks in part to the popularity of the cartoon film, “Rio.”  Vibrant macaws, with their distinctive coloring, longevity, and ability to mimic noises including human voices are particularly prized, selling for as much as $1,000.  But one wildlife sanctuary in Costa Rica is determined to reverse this trend. 

El Manantial, located near the Monteverde Cloud Forest, has been working for over 20 years to protect these rare macaws, boost their numbers, and ultimately release the macaws into the wild.  To do this, they’ve had to recreate vital ecosystems destroyed by decades of deforestation of the rain forest.  Land cleared for farming has been denuded of the plants, seeds, and clay licks vital to the healthy existence of the macaws, resulting in their endangerment and some species are now completely extinct in the wild.  At El Manantial, workers have focused on a targeted program of revegetation to create a nursery of trees and plants to provide sustainable food and shelter for the birds.  Slowly but steadily the refuge is achieving a return of the appropriate biodiversity.  El Manantial breeds Scarlet and Great Green Macaws from chicks, with the intention of returning them to the wild once they have hatched and are able to fend for themselves in an appropriate environment. 

Although El Manantial’s primary focus is on birds, they also work on sustainability of other endangered species threatened by the illegal pet trade: sloths, monkeys, tapirs, and other mammals.  Thanks to the enthusiastic support of volunteers around the world, as well as a dedicated core of locals, El Manantial is making a significant difference in protecting Costa Rica’s delicate ecosystem, as well as educating the public about the importance of stopping the illegal trade of Latin American birds for the benefit of these endangered species, the environment, and future generations.

Alexander+Roberts is a proud supporter of El Manantial’s work, and invites travelers on selected Costa Rica itineraries such as our Treasures of Nature in Costa Rica to visit the refuge to learn more about the important environmental work they are doing.

Posted: 7/17/2015 11:25:11 AM by Alexander + Roberts