Camping With Macaws

Scarlet Six Biomonitoring Team is a group of Belizeans (and one American) who are bent on protecting Belize’s Scarlet Macaw from the illegal pet trade. Before the project started more than 90 percent were poached by Guatemalans. To deter poachers, the Scarlet Six rangers set up camps right under the trees where macaws nest. There they live for five months. One of the purest distillations of brute-force conservation imaginable. But it works: Macaw nests are no longer being poached in the areas where the rangers position themselves.

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The Macal River winds through Western Belize, and it hosts the Winter population of Scarlet Macaws.

Two Scarlet Macaw chicks sit in their nest in the cavity of a quamwood tree in Belize’s Chiquibul Forest, Belize.

Albert Woodye, one of the Scarlet Six rangers, sits under a tarp at camp in the Chiquibul.

Scarlet Six Biomonitoring Team prepare the supplies to bring to the camps where to be able to defend the Scarlet Macaw nests the rangers live for the five months of the breeding season, April through August.

Isael Mai, one of the rangers part of the Scarlet Six Biomonitoring Team, monitors the area around a quamwood tree heavily pocked with the scars from xateros’ spiked boots and the cut use by the poachers to facilitate the climb. Mai is a 26-year-old hardcore bird nerd with an ambition to be a full-time bird guide.

Roni Martinez, one of the founders of Scarlet Six Biomonitoring Team, prepares the camp. Chiquibul Forest, Belize.

Luis Mai (standing) the longest-tenured ranger for Scarlet Six, navigates upstream in the Macal River.

Macal River, Belize.

Rangers going to the Macaw camps.

FCD, Friend of Conservation and Development, facility.

Five rescued Scarlet Macaw chicks sleep off a Tropical Parrot food lunch in their enclosure in the FCD facility.

Biologist Boris Alevaro stands in the FCD's aviary, macaw chicks graduate to the aviary once they fledge.

Scarlet Macaw in the Chiquibul Forest, Belize.

Audubon Spring 2017 - Cover