Beni Savanna, Bolivia


To protect and increase the population of the Critically Endangered Blue-throated Macaw and other species of the Beni Savanna ecosystem through conservation at Barba Azul Nature Reserve.

Project Field Partner

Asociación Armonía is dedicated to implementing effective conservation strategies, coordinating with local communities to protect the Bolivia’s wildlife and habitats in programs throughout the country.

Size of Area Involved

110 km2 (11,000 hectares)

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The Critically Endangered Blue-throated Macaw, with a total wild population of fewer than 300 individuals, is found only in the Beni Savanna of Bolivia, where Barba Azul Reserve constitutes key non-breeding habitat, with counts of up to 155 birds (2017). The reserve also protects the Beni Savanna ecosystem in a natural state, protecting it from fires and overgrazing. As many as 1,450 buff-breasted sandpipers (a Near Threatened species) use the reserve on migration, making this the most important stopover site in Bolivia. Of its 146 mammal species, several are found nowhere else in Amazonia, including the Beni Titi Monkey (Endangered), Maned Wolf (Near Threatened), and the Pampas Deer. Also present are the Southern Tamandua, Black Howler Monkey, Capybara, Jaguar and high concentrations of Giant Anteater. (See our Gallery, below, and Armonia’s wonderful Photo/Video gallery.


The blue-throated macaw and other species sharing the Beni Savanna face ongoing loss of their habitat from conversion for cattle ranching. Cattle ranching can be made much more ecosystem-friendly, as our local partner aims to demostrate to ranchers. The photo shows a logging site for agriculture and cattle-ranching.

We are delighted that Asociacíon Armonía seems to generate a new benchmark of success every year! And 2022 was no exception:  The highest number of Blue-throated Macaws (CR) ever counted—228 individuals—were seen at a single roosting site. Buff-breasted Sandpipers, which nest in Canada’s High Arctic, were also seen at a record number (3,871) during their fall migration. Other notable sightings included the first record of a Bush Dog (Speothos venaticus) and increased sightings of Jaguar. Happily, tourism has rebounded post-pandemic, with 69 paying ecotourists in 2022.

– While some fenced portions of the reserve are now cattle free; other areas are actively managed with cattle to produce grass heights attractive to migratory shorebirds such as the buff-breasted sandpiper.

– A network of extensive firebreaks prevents the spread of human-caused fires, allowing the savanna ecosystem to function naturally.

– Palm island habitats provide the macaw’s chief food of motacu palm fruits, but some lack regeneration because of cattle grazing. Annual work continues to fence key habitats to exclude cattle and transplant palm seedlings on these islands.

– Extensive surveys have located new breeding areas for Blue-throated Macaws outside the reserve under consideration for land acquisition.

– Improvements in the tourism infrastructure have been completed, with a new comedor (dining facilty), upgraded cabins, solar power and a water storage structure. Post-pandemic we expect increased revenue from ecotourists and researchers.

“This reserve is a classic demonstration of the interconnectedness of the natural world. In the process of conserving an importance place for the Blue-throated Macaw, we found that we were also protecting an important place for shorebirds, songbirds, and large mammals that depend on mature savanna. Our goal here is to manage the reserve for all of them.” – Bennett Hennessey, Development Director of Asociación Armonía

The Bolivian organization Asociación Armonía, owns and manages Barba Azul Nature Reserve.  Regular supporters of Barba Azul are the International Conservation Fund of Canada, World Land Trust, American Bird Conservancy, March Conservation Fund, the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act program (USF&WS), Cincinnati Zoo and Bird Bolivia.

Asociación Armonía is a Bolivian accredited non-profit conservation organization created in 1993. It is supported by the regional governments of Beni and Santa Cruz and the Bolivian national park administration (SERNAP). In 2009, Armonía received a certificate of commendation from the Bolivian government for its efforts to protect Bolivia’s birds and their habitats. Armonía manages twenty conservation programs, including twelve programs with threatened species. Key personnel are Conservation Program Director Tjaille Boorsma, Luis Miguel Barbosa, CEO/development director Bennett Hennessey, executive director Rodrigo W. Soria Auza, and Carlos and Yuri Roca, who manage the field station and attend to visiting tourists.

Join hands with our project field partner Asociación Armonía in protecting the wildlife of the Beni Savanna.