The population of the Great Green Macaw dipped to perilously low levels in Costa Rica. About a decade ago there were barely 200 individuals left. Their demise accelerated quickly in the mid-1990s when tungsten carbide chainsaw blades became available, allowing loggers to cut down the Tonka Bean trees that provide the Great Great Macaw with their nest cavities and main source of food.
Since the wood of this tree is insanely dense (one literally cannot drive a nail into it!), the trees couldn't be cut and thus remained standing even in deforested pastures. With the introduction of the new chainsaw blade, loggers quickly went to work cutting the Tonka Bean trees to supply the high demand for the dense, insect-resistant wood -- perfect for construction in the humid, termite-ridden lowlands of Costa Rica.
Through the efforts of numerous environmentalists working on the San Juan-La Selva Biological Corridor, the Great Green Macaw is making a comeback in northern Costa Rica, its historical range. The Tonka Bean Tree is classified as endangered. Cutting one can bring heavy fines.
And the Environment Ministry and police have cracked-down on poachers looking to sell chicks on the black market. Finally, education has led to communities looking out for the birds as well and the placement of nest boxes in trees on local farms.
I was thrilled to photograph this individual flying against the forest with great light in northern Costa Rica!