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Parrots magazine exclusive – Green-winged Macaw egg smuggling on an industrial scale

Spreads for web Parrots 278 4

By Rosemary Low

Imagine you are a pair of Green-winged Macaws in Brazil, aggressively defending your nest containing eggs against predators. But there is one predator against whom you have no defence. The human one. In August 2023 a pair of Green-wings, probably with two or three eggs in the nest, watched helplessly as a man climbed up and stole the eggs. This man was not a biologist, monitoring the nest for conservation purposes, he was part of an international parrot egg smuggling ring.

But it was not only one pair of Green-winged Macaws that suffered the loss of their eggs in this way. Not two, three or four, but probably 20 or more pairs in the space of less than one week in the same locality. How do we know this?

On 11th August 2023, a Chinese man was arrested at São Paulo airport with a portable incubator containing 60 eggs. They were nearly all fertile. As the eggs could not be identified as an endangered species, the trafficker was released without charge. IBAMA, the Brazilian environmental agency, had contacted Prof. Luis Fabio Silveira, from the Zoological Museum of the University of São Paulo. With his many contacts in the avicultural world, he arranged for the eggs to be sent to an experienced breeder in São Paulo. It was left to Prof. Silveira to raise the money for the food and for the staff to feed the chicks around the clock. It was even necessary to construct a small building for the rearing of the many young macaws as they grew older. This was an extraordinary task. Anyone who has simultaneously hand-reared four or five macaw chicks of a large species knows how demanding this is – but more than 50!

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