By Mayukh Saha
A blue macaw travels thousands of miles from Minnesota to Brazil to save its critically endangered species – that’s the plot of ‘Rio’, a 2011 movie by 20th Century Fox. The threat to this species and the awareness to protect it began in the 1980s. Tony Juniper also tried to make the people aware of this problem with his book, “Spix’s Macaw: The Race to Save the World’s Rarest Bird”. Their noble attempts have gone to waste. In 2018, the Spix’s macaw has been officially declared extinct in the wild. The Rio movie now seems like a eulogy. You can’t watch the movie without feeling the tug in your heart that Jewel does not exist anymore. Actually, a study found out that Jewel would have been dead 11 years prior to the release of the movie – back in 2000.
No longer found in the wild
This study, conducted by BirdLife International was shocking, but hardly surprising. We have continued with our constant interference with the wildlife. We are much more aware now than a century before on how our ways can affect wildlife and destroy habitats and species. But, we have chosen not to mend our ways. And now, it has claimed another new victim – the wonderful Spix’s macaw of Brazil – the species that had featured in our favorite movie, Rio. Along with this magnificent blue bird, seven other species have been declared extinct. This is truly tragic – and we have no one else to blame but us.
Our crimes, their loss
BirdLife International accused constant deforestation as the chief cause of this extinction. The rise in deforestation has resulted in the loss of familiar habitat for these birds, making it an inhospitable place to live in. On top of that, these birds were not really that adaptive. While living near more dominant predators and other species, Darwin’s law took effect and they slowly withered away – the fittest stayed back. We lost another glorious species from our wild.
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You can still find them in captivity. There are also reports of existing breeding programs for them but there has been no official statement published in this regard. From free as air, to being captive like a prisoner– that’s the status of the few macaws left behind – a heartbreaking 60 – 80 of them.
The wiped-out species
At least their fate is still better than most. Three other species, two from Brazil only have been completely wiped out – the Alagoas foliage gleaner and the cryptic tree-hunter. In Hawaii, Poo-Uli has gone extinct as well. They were already rare and people failed to capture any of them for breeding or captivity and now, they will just exist in photographs. South America, a treasure-trove of beautiful birds, is becoming a graveyard fast. Stuart Butchart found out that there is actually a growing incidence of extinctions that are happening in continents. Previous centuries saw rampant bird extinctions, mostly in islands, going up to about ninety percent. Now, it has come closer home. If we had thought that we have curbed down extinction, then we were dead wrong.
We don’t deserve this beautiful planet if we continue to go out of our way to destroy every bit of it. Some personal responsibility would be enough, but we are so proud that we don’t want to take that either. Our greed is slowly consuming the world, and we are the perpetrators of this crime.
Enough – let’s take a step back and start reassessing. We can no longer act like the world is ours. We need to find a way to live and let live. The wildlife is at threat because of our careless ways. Let’s make a point to restore it in all possible manners.
IMAGE CREDIT: The Hollywood Reporter