HYACINTH MACAW PROJECT

The Hyacinth Macaw Project (Projeto Arara Azul) studies the biology and ecological relationships of the hyacinth macaw and manages and promotes the conservation of the hyacinth macaw in its natural habitat. The project studies the reproductive biology of scarlet macaws, toucans, hawks, owls, Muscovy ducks, and other species that live alongside the hyacinth macaw in the Pantanal.

OBJECTIVES

THE MAIN OBJECTIVES OF THE HYACINTH MACAW PROJECT ARE:

– To maintain viable populations of hyacinth macaws (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) in the wild in their natural habitat, over the medium and long-terms;

– To promote the conservation of biodiversity and of the Pantanal as a whole.

The specific objectives may vary from year to year, but they include studies of basic biology, reproduction, behavior, habitat requirements, environmental management and education for the conservation of the species in the wild, among other objectives.

Photo: Sílvio Esgalha

WHO IS NEIVA GUEDES? LEARN A BIT ABOUT HER CAREER PATH

Neiva Maria Robaldo Guedes was born in Ponta Porã, in the State of Mato Grosso do Sul, on January 10, 1962. She graduated from UFMS in Biological Sciences in 1987.
Upon graduation, she was granted a scholarship by CNPq (Scientific Improvement 87-89) and worked at EMBRAPA Beef Cattle, in Campo Grande, where she began her career in scientific investigation under the guidance of Dr. Cacilda Borges do Valle. In May 1989, she started work at the Department of Environmental Education of the Secretariat of the Environment of Mato Grosso do Sul, where she assisted with the teaching of several courses for middle and high school teachers and mentored children and students in their first contacts with nature, guiding them on the trails of the Parque dos Poderes Ecological Reserve.

In November 1989, Neiva Guedes saw a flock of hyacinth macaws (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) in the Pantanal during her field work for the Nature Conservation course for IBAMA, EMBRAPA, and SEMA-MS technicians. Neiva was amazed by the beauty of the scene (about 30 hyacinth macaws perched on a dead branch) and when she found out that these birds were fast disappearing and now endangered species, she decided to do something to prevent it, with the conviction that other people should be able to observe hyacinth macaws in their natural habitat. This evolved into a major life focus for her: the fight for the conservation of the hyacinth macaw, resulting in the Hyacinth Macaw Project. Since that time, she has dedicated her life to the conservation of these birds in the Brazilian Pantanal

History

The Hyacinth Macaw Project began in 1990, with field support from the Fazenda Nhumirim of the Pantanal Center of Agriculture and Livestock, CPAP-Embrapa, in the Nhecolândia Pantanal sub-region, with resources from the WWF-US and later, an open Jeep supplied by Toyota.

During the initial field studies, Neiva worked in collaboration with biologist Lee Harper.

The study of the reproductive biology of the hyacinth macaw became the focus of Neiva Guedes’ master’s degree dissertation at ESALQ/USP under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Álvaro Fernando de Almeida.

In October 1993, Neiva Guedes completed her master’s degree and in March 1994, she entered CESUP – the Campo Grande Center for Superior Education, currently UNIDERP – University for the Development of the State and the Pantanal Region, which became responsible for the execution of the Project through Neiva Guedes.

In 1993 and 1994, Neiva received a scholarship and funding from the Fundação O Boticário/Mac Arthur Foundation that, together with resources from CECITEC (currently FUNDECT) received with support from SODEPAN (1993-1995), helped to maintain the Project.

During the period from 1996 to 1999, most of the project expenses were covered by Elly de Vries and Richard Welch of Los Angeles-USA, a couple who had learned about the project in 1995.

When they returned to the United States, they created the Hyacinth Macaw Fund, transferring resources through the California Community Foundation.

The fund was deactivated in 1999, when the couple separated.

AWARDS AND PRIZES

PIETER OYENS PRIZE, to encourage young conservationists, up to 30 years of age, offered by the WWF-US. Neida Guedes was selected by an International Committee for her contribution to nature conservation in Brazil, in July 1995.

Identidade Sul Matogrossense Guaicuru Merit Award

Neiva Guedes received the MERIT AWARD for her relevant service towards the promotion and preservation of the memory and cultural identity of Mato Grosso do Sul/Guaicuru, awarded by the Guaicuru Cultural Unit, Campo Grande, October 6, 1998.

PROJECT STUDY AREAS

Project work began in the Nhecolândia Pantanal with the support of the Fazenda Nhumirim of the Pantanal Center from Agriculture and Livestock Research – CPAP Embrapa and 13 other properties in the region. Later, at the invitation of the owners of the Pousada Arara Azul, the Project expanded to the Abobral Pantanal.

Currently, the Project focuses its research efforts in the Miranda region, because it has a Field Base in the Caiman Ecological Refuge (R.E.C.). Starting from this point, the Project is able to expand its macaw monitoring efforts to a radius of more than 57 farms in this region and other neighboring areas.

In the Mato Grosso region, research is carried out in order to monitor and track the population of hyacinth macaws in the Barão de Melgaço and Perigara regions in the Pantanal. Due to the high costs of travel and the difficult access to this region by researchers, the work is normally concentrated and carried out during the breeding period of hyacinth macaws (from July to December).

In other regions of Brazil, such as Tocantins, São Paulo and Bahia, there are researchers associated with Instituto Arara Azul, carrying out monitoring work on nests and baby birds (macaws as well as other species), under the guidance of Neiva Guedes.

In 2016, the first hyacinth macaw nest in the region of Campo Grande-MS was registered, thus marking the species’ arrival in that city. To get to know more about the work performed in this region, click on Learn More.

THE FIELD TEAM

Currently, the field team consists of the Project coordinator, Neiva M. R. Guedes, four collaborating biologists, a technician in Ambiental Conservation, a field assistant, as well as the participation of interns and volunteers. (See the whole team here). Want to be part of this team? Click here.

Associate researchers participate sporadically in field activities, depending on the objectives, but once the material is collected it is sent to the research partners in the laboratories at UNIDERP, USP, UNICAMP, UNESP, and ULBRA.

WHAT WE DO

The Project relies on a full-time team, generally 1-2 people in the first half and 3-6 people on the second half of the year, to develop the activities of monitoring, handling and research at Pantanal.

During the dry season, from June to November, we use the Toyota Hilux for travel and have access to almost all the nests. During the flooding season, some nests are isolated by water. In these occasions, we use tractors, boats, horses, or if necessary we go on foot, carrying all the necessary equipment in backpacks for up to several kilometers, depending upon the location of the nest.

The activities vary depending on the time of year whether the breeding period (2nd semester), the non-breeding period (1st semester), the climatic conditions, and individual needs.

Additionally, during the course of the year, we work with community involvement through environmental education for children, ranch hands, and ranch owners or in the schools, we give lectures, we conduct sewing, handicraft, and other workshops for low-income women, and we participate in fairs and exhibitions.

Research Assistant Cezar Corrêa, monitoring a nest with a chick. The Miranda Pantanal.
Phpto: Neiva Guedes
Neiva on the tractor performing biometry on the chick.
Phpto: Cézar Corrêa
Neiva training of biologists in the field.
Phpto: Cézar Corrêa
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