The Scarlet Macaw the Scarlet Macaw (Ara Macao) is one of the most extravagantly beautiful birds of the New World tropics. This charismatic species is considered a symbol of the Central Pacific Area of Costa Rica, and its images are found everywhere: on billboards, hotel emblems, schools, postcards, and businesses. Unfortunately the real Scarlet Macaw is not as plentiful. With about 400 individuals, this is one of only two viable Scarlet Macaw populations in Costa Rica.
The Scarlet Macaw is one of few threatened species which coexists with human populations and these birds are seen daily in the villages and farms surrounding Carara National Park (CNP). They survive because adults are not hunted and adequate habitat exists in Carara National Park and adjoining areas. Sadly however, this population is faced with a threat confronting many of the world's endangered parrot species: poaching for the pet trade.
Study of the Central Pacific Scarlet Macaw population began in 1990 and is still continuing, making this one of the longest running research efforts of a macaw population ever. One of the outstanding contributions to parrot biology has been the yearly monitoring of the population numbers.
The Association for Parrot Protection, LAPPA was created in 1995 by local residents living alongside these remarkable birds, concerned for the population's future. LAPPA is a community based conservation organization dedicated to the protection of Scarlet Macaws. Its conservation work includes: protection of active macaw nests, installation of artificial nest boxes, improving Scarlet Macaw habitat, environmental education about the Scarlet Macaw with local school children, promoting scientific research on the species, monitoring the population. LAPPA also encourages local communities and other stakeholder groups interested in the Scarlet Macaw to work together in conservation activities which both improve their economic condition and help conserve the Scarlet Macaw population.
Sixteen years after its formation LAPPA is still working to save this population of Scarlet Macaws and other members of the Psittacidae family such Yellow Naped Parrot, the Central Pacific's most popular and charismatic animals.