SCARLET MACAW PROTECTION INTERNSHIP
The Scarlet Macaw Protection Internship is a Veterinary Internship for pre-vet, veterinary, or other students with a background in biological sciences. Avian experience is preferred. This internship is part of a larger Scarlet Macaw Protection Program which is a conservation initiative between the Belize Wildlife & Referral Clinic (BWRC), Friends for Conservation & Development (FCD) and the Wildlife Institute (WI). The purpose of the Scarlet Macaw Protection Program is to conserve a specific Scarlet Macaw population in the Chiquibul Forest which is under heavy poaching threat. Part of the conservation strategy is to remove chicks from nest sites that are under heaviest threat of poaching, and for which security provision is most prohibitive. Chicks are reared at a field station to be reintroduced into the wild. Scarlet Macaw Protection Interns work with field staff primarily in the chick rearing activities at the field station.
Wildlife Institute internship fees for this program provide earmarked funding for the Belize Wildlife & Referral Clinic (BWRC) and Friends for Conservation & Development (FCD) to support the Scarlet Macaw Protection Program.
As veterinary interns, the primary objective is to provide husbandry and medical care to Scarlet Macaw chicks that are being reared at the research station. Daily duties include feeding and cleaning, weighing, monitoring chick health, and providing medical care as needed, under supervision or with assistance of BWRC or FCD staff.
The lead veterinarian for this project is Dr. Isabelle Paquet-Durand, Director of the BWRC, in cooperation with an international panel of veterinary and expert advisors. Each month, BWRC’s veterinary medical team assists with chick health checks at the nesting site. Whenever possible, Scarlet Macaw Protection Interns will join the BWRC medical team in the field.
Interns can expect to spend the majority of their time at the field station* where shared accommodation with shared bath and kitchen are provided. All meals at the research station are included. However, upon arrival in Belize and before departure, interns are housed in San Ignacio with shared accommodations & shared bath. Meals in San Ignacio are not included. Have a look at our standard packing list and other info on our FAQ webpage.
The suggested duration of stay for students is 4 weeks or longer. Nesting starts in March, April and chicks will fledge in between August and October. Only one or two interns will be accepted at the same time. It is possible that the Scarlet Macaw Protection Program’s objectives and time-frames could change; in part or totally. While internships require long-term planning, interns must be prepared to adjust to variations in nesting season permutations. In any eventuality, when interns’ services are not or no longer needed in the field with the Scarlet Macaw Protection Program, interns will be assigned with the veterinary staff at the Belize Wildlife & Referral Clinic or a partner project as available.
The Chiquibul Forest of Belize is part of the largest contiguous piece of rainforest north of the amazon and harbors one of the last populations of the Central American Scarlet Macaw. The estimates are that about 200 Scarlet Macaws remain in the wild. In the past years, our partners’ studies have shown poaching pressures of up to 89% of the nests. This pressure will lead to the local extinction of this population in a matter of years. After starting protection efforts by placing rangers under active nests to prevent poaching for the past 4 years, poaching pressures have been reduced to 30%, but due to the immense size of the area it is not possible to protect all nests. Therefore starting in 2015, several organizations united forces to start a rearing program in order to increase the survival rates of macaw chicks. This program follows established methods of Wildlife Conservation Society who is an advising partner and has conducted similar work in Guatemala.
The Wildlife Institute arranges housing at local hotels and guest houses for interns and students. Standard accomodations include multiple occupany, AC, free WiFi, private bath and kitchenette. Upgrades and private accomodations are available upon request. Students and interns have free access to BWRC kayaks for wildlife spotting and recreation.
Field Station Facilities: The nearest town is 2.5 hours away. There is little or no opportunity to “go to town”. Electricity at the field station is only available for 2-3 hours per day by use of a generator (as available). During those hours there should be wireless internet available but with very limited bandwidth (satellite internet). Only very basic emailing will be possible and whenever technical difficulties are encountered there can be days without internet. There will be no streaming and limited social media use (limited to quick updates). Mosquito nets and insect repellent as well as lightweight long sleeve clothing are recommended.