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The Spix's Macaw School Project

Parrots International Adopted the Spix's Macaw School in Curaça, Brazil

as a Community Action Project in August of 2006.


The Spix's Macaw School house in Curaça, Brazil


 Spix's Macaw School Project Partners:


Parrots International

The Lymington Foundation, Brazil

Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation, Qatar

ACTP, Germany

Voglepark Walsrode, Germany

IBAMA (Institute Chico Mendes of Biodiversity Conservation) 


Please join our growing list of Spix's Macaw School Supporters:


Hill Country Aviaries, Dripping Spring, Texas

National Parrot Rescue & Preservation Society


Recess at the Little Spix's Macaw School house (on the left in the distance)

  Why save the Spix's Macaw School?...................... Well, read on:


In August of 2006 Mark and Marie Stafford self financed a Parrots International trip to the area south of Curaça, Brazil, the historical habitat of the Spix's Macaw, extinct in the wild since October 2000. This is their story:



The purpose of our trip to the Bahia State of Brazil was three fold:


First, to visit the historical habitat of the Spix's Macaw south of Curaça to explore and understand the status of the habitat and the future and potentials for reintroduction of the Spix's Macaw.


Second, to photograph the Illiger's Macaw which is sympatric within the former range of the now extinct Spix's Macaw.


Thirdly, to assess the results of the first season of the Parrots International/Lymington Foundation Lear's Macaw Subsidy of Indigent Subsistence Corn Farmers in Jeremoabo and Canudos, Brazil, a seven hour drive over dirt roads from Curaça.


We were joined in Curaça, Brazil by Dr. Yara Barros, PhD., the field coordinator for the former Spix's Macaw Project. The Spix's Macaw Project, largely funded by Loro Parque Foundation, ceased operations in Curaça in 2002, two years after the last Spix's Macaw disappeared from the wild.


Although it had been four years since the last researcher left Curaça, as we explored the former Spix's habitat were amazed at the commitment the community still has to the Spix's Macaw. Of significance is the innate respect the local people have for their wildlife and birds. 


The End of the "road" at the Gangorra Farm, historical Spix's habitat


Case in point:

Early one morning, prior to day break, we had driven down one wisp of a dirt road to investigate an area of Spix's habitat called the Gangorra Farm. In the early dawn we passed by two small farm houses without stopping to attempt to arrive in the field early that morning to view and photograph Illiger's Macaws. We drove about 4 kilometers past the last house, drove off-road down over hills and through caatinga brush, parked, and then hiked down into the Riacho Melancia creek bed. Later in the morning, as the heat of the Caatinga grew, and as Marie and I were busy taking photos and videos of Illiger's from the dry creed bed,  we noticed three distant figures lurking around our red truck still parked in the distance. The figures then tracked our footsteps down into the creek, shadowed us behind the creek bank shrubbery, and mysteriously disappeared.  Very spooky and disconcerting.   


Spix's Macaw School children and teachers:


On far left: one of the child "trackers" in the royal blue t-shirt on the left,

Mark and Marie Stafford, in front of cactus.  Dr. Yara Barros, PhD on far right

Second from right: Jorge de Sauza Rosa, who drives an old Pick-up truck to pick up and

delivers the children to the Spix's Macaw School each day.

Third from right: Lidia Martins Rosa, former teacher of the Spix's School

Fourth from right (standing next to Marie): Maria de Socerro de Olinera, teacher


Later, when we headed back toward Curaça, re-tracing our drive, as we passed first small farm house the same three figures ran out in front of our truck. They  were three children! (perhaps age 16 to 10). They called their father  out from inside the farm house as they blocked our path. Their father explained that the children had tracked our truck four kilometers on foot, through the heat of the caatinga,  and recorded our license plate, as they thought we were  trappers looking for canaries! Where would you ever expect to find  that!....four years after the project left the Curaça!! We had been tracked and followed by children!!! The children from the tiny local Spix's Macaw School! Obviously someone had  done a fantastic job of education and community awareness during the past. You  couldn't buy that community awareness and commitment for any amount of money. This amazing enthusiastic community support is a dream for a future reintroduction program for the Spix's Macaw.


Marie dispensing gifts to the children of the Spix's School


Based on that experience,  Parrots International donated on the spot to keep the Spix's Macaw School open and began a campaign to save the Spix's Macaw School. We also committed to continue the support of the Spix's Macaw School and the children for their future, and for the potential future reintroduction of the Spix's Macaw. The Spix's Macaw School, located in one of the poorest areas of Brazil, presently has 25 students, ages 5 through 16, enrolled in day classes.



The Spix's Macaw School was originally built in 1995 through a partnership between the Spix's Macaw Project, who sponsored the construction material, and the community, who gathered together to build the school. The name of the school was chosen by the children. The school is located in the Fazenda Pau de Colher, in the former range of the Spix's Macaw. After the Spix's Macaw Project suspended its activities in 2002 the Project ended support of the school (the last Spix's Macaw in the wild disappeared in October 2000)and the school has suffered economic hardship. The teacher's salary for day time classes and lunch are presently funded by the City Hall but not in sufficient amounts to provide for basic educational requirements. "The governmental powers that be" in Town of Curaça, an hour and a half drive north of the school,  are considering closing the Spix's Macaw School due to lack of funds. Those same politicians have cut the funding for the "Spix's School bus", an old pickup truck.           


Parrots International and partners have joined to donate funds to help save the Spix's Macaw School.  It is some of the  best money that could be placed into an investment toward future plans for Spix's Reintroduction.


Inside the Spix's School on the day of adoption: no lights, no electricity, no running water, no toilet.

Standing is the Spix's School's teacher, Maria de Socerro de Olinera


Parrots International met with Lymington Foundation in August 2006 and forged the first partner for the renewed support of the Spix's Macaw School. From that first meeting we have gained many partners and supporters, including AWWP, ACTP, Hill Country Aviaries, and NPRPS. 


The partners are committed to taking the Spix's Macaw School from no night time electricity, and essentially no books and solar/battery electricity, a library, and adequate teaching supplies and a sanitary toilet. Solar/battery electricity will allow interior lighting for reading, allow the school to be opened for night classes for the adult education, and allow Parrots International and our partners to donate DVD and computer equipment for modern educational teaching methods. The partnership is now sending monthly resources that allows the teachers to purchase necessary didactic materials.



                                      Ana Vitoria - Age 5                                                Jose Alves - Age 9

(Photos by Bill and Linda Wittkoff - Lymington Foundation)


Another priority is the establishment of night classes. Thanks to the help of Dr. Yara Barros, Ph.D., conversations with the teachers of the Spix's Macaw School (Lidia and Maria) revealed that many adults of the region were interested in learning basic reading and writing, however there is no funding from the City Hall of  for this education. Therefore, the partnership is funding the teachers salaries to open evening classes at the Spix's Macaw School for the local adults that have not had the opportunity to attend school and learn to read and write. Adults (ages 16+) attending night classes must miss their evening meal with their families to be able to participate. Therefore we (the partners and supporters) are donating to provide an evening meal for each night class attendee.



                                    Lindomar - Age 16                                                      Jailane - Age 6

(Photos by Bill and Linda Wittkoff - Lymington Foundation)


In July 2007 the Spix's Macaw School Project, via funds from Parrots International and Lymington Foundation, delivered 30 new student desks and chairs, A new teacher's desk as well as bookcases and cabinets to the students at the Spix's Macaw School. Lymington Foundation organized the purchase and shipping.


The long range goal of the Working Group for the Recovery of the Spix's Macaw, of which Parrots International is a member, is the reintroduction of the Spix's Macaw into its historical habitat.  Thanks to the cooperative commitment of the present holders of the 78 Spix's Macaws in captive breeding programs, the dream of reintroducing the Spix's Macaw back into its historical habitat is now a potential reality....a goal.


Typical home of the students of the Spix's Macaw School, Curaça, Brazil


The realization of this goal, The reintroduction and the subsequent  protection of  the reintroduced Spix’s Macaws and their habitat, is only possible if the local people truly believe that the species must be saved. To achieve this, the Spix's Macaw project members are working with the local community,  before the reintroduction actually begins, to demonstrate that the Spix's Macaw reintroduction and conservation is a win/win for both the community and the Spix's Macaw. This is what will assure the long term survival of the species. The support for the Spix’s Macaw School is a very important conservation tool to achieve this goal.  The support of the Spix's Macaw School provides the groundwork for the future introduction of the Spix's Macaw.


Meeting of the Working Group for the Recovery of the Spix's Macaw

Sao Paulo Zoo, Sao Paulo, Brazil. November 2006


Of important note: the Spix's Macaw School partners and supporters are working under the approval and authority of the Brazilian Wildlife Ministry, IBAMA, now named the Institute Chico Mendes of Biodiversity Conservation. The partnership's goal is the support of the Working Group for the Recovery of the Spix's Macaw in the long range goal of the successful reintroduction of the Spix's Macaw into its historical habitat.


In further promoting the reintroduction goal, Parrots International, in partnership with Lymington Foundation (Brazil) and ACTP (Germany), purchased The Gangorra Farm on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2007. The Gangorra Farm consists of 400 hectares, fully 1000 acres, of prime Spix's Macaw habitat adjacent to the Spix's Macaw School.  The partnership obtained the habitat for the future use of the Spix's Macaw Project. Over the next few years the habitat of the Gangorra Farm is undergoing restoration and can be used as a base for the Breeding and Reintroduction Center for the Spix’s Macaws.



Please join our growing list of supporters of The Spix's Macaw School Project !!!

"The Dream"



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