The rarest bird in the world
Discovered by the German naturalist Johann Baptist von Spix in the early 19th century, the Spix's macaw is a relatively small parrot (between 50 and 60 centimetres), light (less than 400 grams) and characterised by its blue-green plumage, light blue circles around the eyes and, in the young, a white line on its beak.
It lived in Caatinga, a semi-desert habitat in north-eastern Brazil. Hunted by Man, and also a victim of the destruction of its habitat, the Spix’s macaw disappeared from Nature and the species has been officially declared “extinct” in the wild. Only a few dozen specimens still live in captivity.
The only Spix’s macaws that can be viewed by the public in Europe
Pairi Daiza is the only European zoological garden to present this bird to its visitors. Four Spix’s macaws live in the Jardin des Mondes
A “critically endangered” species
- Name: Spix’s macaw
- Latin name: Cyanopsitta spixii
- Origin: Brazil
- IUCN status: Critically endangered
- Cites: Appendix I
Reintroducing the Spix’s macaw into Nature
Pairi Daiza and the Pairi Daiza Foundation, in close collaboration with the Brazilian authorities, the Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation, the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots (ACTP), the Chico Mendes Institute for the Conservation of Biodiversity (ICMBio) and the Pairi Daiza Foundation, are working on a great project: to give the Spix’s macaws back their complete freedom. And, in their natural environment, to restore a population of parrots that is sufficiently large and well-protected to ensure the survival and development of the species in the ecosystem from which it should never have disappeared. This project, if successful, would be hailed as a world first, because Man has never managed to reintroduce a species of animal back into the wild that was extinct in Nature.
Six concrete actions
Six concrete actions have been announced and/or have already been achieved:
- The creation of a centre for the conservation and reproduction of the Spix’s macaw in the Jardin des Mondes, in Pairi Daiza: The Pairi Daiza Foundation is committed to building and managing, in the Jardin des Mondes, in Brugelette, the second Global Centre for the Conservation and Reproduction of the Spix’s macaw, after the ACTP Foundation (Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots), in Berlin.
- Presentation of the Spix’s macaw to the public by the Pairi Daiza Foundation: The ACTP has entrusted four young Spix’s macaws to the Pairi Daiza Foundation, which can be viewed by Belgian and international audiences. This extremely rare presentation (only a couple of Spix’s macaws could be viewed in the world, at the Singapore Zoo) should raise awareness in the general public both about the serious dangers which threaten the species and about the programme put in place by the signatories to reintroduce it back into its natural environment.
- Creation of nature reserves in Brazil: to prepare for the return of the Spix’s macaws to their natural environment, the Brazilian authorities have announced the creation of two “nature reserves” in Caatinga (in the north-east of Brazil) where all the conditions will be arranged to ensure the survival of the parrots that are going to be released.
- Establishment of a Centre for rehabilitation, breeding and reintroduction in Brazil:reintroducing animals born in captivity into the wild is a long and difficult process. Animals of any kind must be prepared for their new freedom gradually, step by step, little by little. Discovery of their freedom can take several months. In order to facilitate and prepare for this return of the Spix’s macaws, the Brazilian authorities decided to build a Centre for the rehabilitation and reintroduction of the Spix’s macaw, in situ. This centre and its staff will be funded by the Pairi Daiza Foundation. The Pairi Daiza Foundation will give its name to the centre.
- Release of first few dozen Spix’s macaws: Once the rehabilitation and reintroduction centre has been established in Brazil, operations for the release of the Spix’s macaws into the nature reserves created by the Brazilian authorities can be initiated. This will initially involve several dozen macaws born in Germany, within the ACTP Foundation, or in Qatar. The transfer of these birds will be financed by both the ACTP and by the Pairi Daiza Foundation.
- Multi-year programme for the release of Spix’s macaws: The Spix’s macaw release programme will not be restricted to the first “releases” in 2019. To ensure the success of the operation, the partners are preparing for continuous releases of parrots, year after year, until the bird population is strong and stable enough to ensure the survival of the species in its natural environment. It should be possible therefore to release a dozen or so Spix’s macaws on an annual basis. Birds born in the ACTP centres in Berlin, in Brazil or in the Pairi Daiza Foundation centre in Belgium.