The spix’s macaw is as rare in the wild as a species can be, with one lone survivor.
In the late 1980s, believing that the bird was extinct in the wild, conservationists focused on breeding the handful of captive spix’s macaws for release into the wild. This was a highly-coordinated effort, since only 30 birds were known in captivity and many of those were owned by private parties.
The discovery of one surviving male in the wild prompted a massive search to locate an eligible female for him. One was found in Brazil. An adult bird that had been in captivity for seven years, the female required extensive training to prepare for life in the wild, including learning how to find and eat natural foods.
She and the male found each other shortly after her release, but within a week she had disappeared. The local people, who once destroyed macaw habitat, have now rallied behind this tragic love story and the cause to save the spix’s macaw.
Plans are underway for reintroducing other macaws to the wild. Meanwhile, captive breeding brought the world total to 39 spix’s macaws at the end of 1995.