Scarlet macaws in a misty Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
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June 12, 2022

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Tony Rath
Editorial, assignment & stock photography from Belize. Pictures, images and photos of nature, people, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker & San Igacio, Cayo. Tony Rath is a professional photographer based along the shore of the Caribbean Sea in the picturesque town of Dangriga, Belize. He is a trained marine biologist and has worked as a diver and underwater photographer for the Smithsonian Institution; diving on oil rigs off California; and captaining a sailboat across the Atlantic Ocean and through the Mediterranean and North Seas. He founded, along with his wife Therese, Naturalight Productions, Belize's premiere Internet marketing company. He now leads the special projects division of the company. The company created and manages numerous award winning websites.
Scarlet macaws in a misty Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

Wonderful to see Scarlet macaws in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary along with the roar of the howler monkey, both species either brought from or protected in other parts of Belize. This shows the power of having diverse protected areas, wildlife corridors and well-springs of biodiversity that seed remote locations. Conservation efforts in Belize should be proud, but there is still more work to be done.

The status, globally, by the IUCN the Scarlet Macaw is listed as Least Concern. In South America they have a strong foothold, but in Central America they are endangered. Here in Belize, the numbers have dwindled to a couple hundred of these stunning birds.

Threats to their survival include habitat loss, low birth rate, and the biggest of all, illegal poaching and trade. In 2019, they received protection under the United States Endangered Species Act (ESA). Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) began a project back in 2008 to monitor nesting sites. They discovered up to 50% of the monitored sites were poached, and by 2011, almost 89% were poached. Due to this rapid loss, FCD partnered with the Scarlet 6, a team devoted to the monitoring and protection of nests. The Scarlet Macaw Working Group (SMWG) also intervened in directly protecting nests. Thanks to the collaborative approach of these dedicated groups, they have directly impacted the survival of nesting sites. The work is not finished though, and the Scarlet Macaw still needs protection, and not just at their nesting sites, but also their homes and habitat.

Photograph by Tony Rath

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