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Jun 17, 2020

Scarlet Macaw, the Prized Bird in the Illegal Pet Trade

The poaching of Scarlet Macaws for the illegal pet trade isn’t new. It’s something we’ve been reporting on for about ten years – but this illicit activity may have been taking place inside the Chiquibul Forest even long before. Just recently, Guatemalan poachers were found with seven of the exotic birds, five survived. Poachers roam the forest looking for birds which fetch high prices on the black market. And as Raphael Manzanero of the F.C.D. explains, the extent of the poaching of these endangered birds runs deeper than they’ve been documenting. Due the vast expanse of the forest, it is almost impossible to identify and monitor breeding sites for the birds. The Scarlet Macaw, due to its colourful feathers, remains one of the most prized species in the illegal pet trade.


On the Phone: Raphael Manzanero, Executive Director, FCD

“It was until last year that we realized the poaching is much more than we had anticipated. We had been doing biological monitoring on one particular breeding site of macaws in the Chiquibul but we didn’t realize that other areas, far more distant were being targeted for the extraction of chicks. So, we learnt therefore there were other breeding areas and so we learnt that indeed data on our hands. The scarlet macaws is one of the most prized parrots to the poachers of the size, the plumage and they are rare because the sub-species that we have here are endangered. And so those ones would fetch a higher price. We know that over the years Guatemalans would sell these parrots for three hundred to three thousand Belize dollars. So, depending on the size and how far they are taken for sale, the price is really high.”


Manzanero says that other parrot species are being targeted but those have lower market value to the poachers. He notes that data on the illegal trade of macaws is still lacking, which is why they don’t know what percentage of the birds stay in Guatemala and where the rest are shipped off to.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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