The critically endangered Blue-billed Curassow is found only in the Magdalena Valley of Colombia. Tragically, most of this wilderness has been lost to logging, agricultural expansion, cocaine production, and mining. The Magdalena Valley’s deforestation rate between 1998 and 2007 has been between 5-7% per year. The Curassow’s population was estimated at 1,000-2,500 birds in 1994, and local reports indicate that there have been more recent and rapid declines. In 2009, ProAves estimated the wild population to be 250 individuals, making it one of the most endangered species in the Americas and one of the rarest birds in the world.
The Magdalena Valley has an exceptional diversity of endemic birds, plants, mammals, amphibians, and other groups, including the curassow, the endangered White-mantled Barbet, and Sooty Ant-Tanager, as well as populations of wintering neotropical migrants such as the Cerulean Warbler and Swainson’s Hawk. Importantly, the area contains the last remnant populations of several large mammals such as the critically endangered Magdalena subspecies of lowland tapir, jaguar, and spectacled bear, as well as a population of the variegated spider monkey, considered one of the rarest primates on earth.
YouTube - White mantled Barbet - Capito hypoleucus. By. Luis Eduardo Urueña
We can prevent the further decline of the Blue-billed Curassow by protecting additional habitat, and by educating the local communities on its conservation.
In 2004 ABC and Colombian partner Fundación ProAves established the 12,400-acre El Paujíl Bird Reserve in order to protect the critically endangered Blue-billed Curassow.
In 2010, expansion of the reserve with multiple key partners brought the total protected land to over 14,830 acres in Colombia’s Magdalena Valley, a rich area where lowland tropical rainforest is rapidly being cleared for agriculture.
A local school changed its name to El Paujil in honor of the curassow, indicating the power of ongoing local education campaigns
The annual El Paujil Blue Billed Curassow Festival started by ProAves in 2004 has become a yearly celebration. Thanks to educational outreach, hunting of the Blue-billed Curassow and variegated spider-monkey has been significantly reduced, and regular sightings of the curassow draw more visitors.
ABC and ProAves have initiated a Women for Conservation program at El Paujíl, providing women living in the reserve buffer zone with vocational opportunities in return for agreeing to protect the reserve and its natural resources.
A lodge and trail systems have been constructed at the reserve to facilitate ecotourism, helping to generate funds.
Continued improvements to the ecotourism program have been made, including the purchase of a motor boat for transporting birdwatchers to the lodge, gardens, and a new dining kiosk.
Camera traps and feeding stations have been set up to monitor the curassow in the reserve. Combined with reduced hunting, the hope is that the birds will become more abundant and more easily observed in the reserve and surrounding areas.