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Macaw population decline, poaching, communitesand Punta Leona After years of population monitoring, the Scarlet Macaw showed a six percent annual population decrease (Vaughan et al. 2005). Habitat loss was not a major factor, as secondary forests and exotic plantations of teak (Tectona grandis) and Gmelina arborea were increasing, replacing cattle ranches, and providing additional macaw food sources. Park guards and local residents suspected that chick poaching was causing population decline (Vaughan et al. 2005). For the estimated 10 poachers who lived in Tarcoles and Playa Azul, a macaw chick was worth between US$300400, equivalent to 2 months salary. Wildlife


and park officials could not stop this illegal trade because of the difficulty of patrolling macaw nests randomly throughout their 560km2 home range (Vaughan & Liske 1991, Marineros & Vaughan 1995). Local community and institutional support were needed to attack the poaching problem.


Interest in Scarlet Macaw conservation varied between and within communities in the region. Poachers from Tarcoles and Playa Azul, sold about 18 chicks yearly (Marineros & Vaughan 1995). Both towns were within a kilometer of Carara National Park and Guacilillo Mangrove Reserve, where many macaws nested, fed and roosted. In Bijagual and Quebrada


46 BIRD SCENE


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