Nottingham University Bolivia Project 1992

Adam White

A team of six British and five Bolivian students carried out surveys of the reserve's avifauna and established collaborative links between the two institutions involved. Problems were encountered due to unseasonal rainfall (the wettest winter in living memory), reducing both financial resources and the number of days in the field. Despite this, 338 species of birds were recorded, 57 of which were new records for the reserve including Unicoloured Thrush (Tudus haplochrous), a virtuallly unknown Bolivian endemic. Notes compiled on this species have highlighted difficulties with its identification and a paper is due to be published on this. The reserve's updated avifaunal inventory stands at a remarkable 472 species, including 4 threatened and 7 near-threatened species. A study on cracidae species showed that the once abundant Razor-billed Curassow (Crax mitu) had undergone a dramatic population decline. This was probably due to hunting, but nearby logging activities mean that this lowland rainforest is becoming increasingly isolated. Searches for Blue-throated Macaw (Ara glaucogularis) and Wattled Curassow (Crax globulosa) were fruitless. Some work was also carried out on mammals. Earthwatch projects in the area, led by Dr. Robin Brace. Alan Hesse and Erika Cuellar are currently in Santa Cruz working on the BT Macaw project. (MKP questionnaire).

Project update: 13/2/98. The key results of this survey of the Beni Biosphere Reserve in lowland east Bolivia were: (1) the discovery of a small population of Unicoloured Thrush Turdus haplochrous; (2) a study of Cracidae in the Reserve; (3) the addition of 58 bird species to the Reserve list, bringing it to 470, and including four near-threatened species; (4) records of two threatened bird species: Crowned Eagle Harpyhaliaetus coronatus and Rufous-rumped Seedeater Sporophila hypochroma. The team searched for but failed to locate populations of two threatened species, the Wattled Curassow Crax globulosa and Blue-throated Macaw Ara glaucogularis. Following the expedition, an Earthwatch project was set up at the Reserve. Team members have been involved since it began in 1994. One UK team member and a Bolivian team member subsequently joined BirdLife partner Asociación Armonia in Santa Cruz after it was founded in 1993 and pursued work on the threatened Blue-throated macaw as an Armonia activity (A. White n litt. 1993; G. Duffield verbally 1997; A. Hesse in litt. 1998).