Scarlet Macaw Protection

The Scarlet Macaw Protection Internship in Belize is a Veterinary Internship for pre-vet, veterinary, or other students with a background in biological sciences. 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.

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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) . 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.


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.

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.



BWRC arranges housing at local hotels and guest houses for interns and students. Standard accommodations include multiple occupancy, shared bath and kitchenette. Upgrades and private accommodations 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.


Acadamic Credit:

We encourage interns to apply to their home institution to receive academic credit for their internship experience. Our interns are routinely awarded both credit and in many cases scholarships to cover some of their travel costs and program fees. If you are seeking academic credit, please provide forms to be filled out by your supervisor in advance of your arrival in Belize.


Our team invites interns from around the world and do our best to accommodate a full range of diversity. For many of our interns, English may be a second language. As such, we require a basic working knowledge of English, and are happy to receive interns who are more comfortable working in Spanish, French, and German.


Applicants will be provided with an application and waiver form which states that applicants must provide their own comprehensive medical insurance which includes international air evacuation and trip insurance in case of interrupted travel to the airport.



Transfers from the International Airport to your accommodations are arranged with local companies. Courses include daily transportation, and interns are generally housed within walking distance of their internship station. Under some circumstances, interns may be asked to use public transportation.


Belize is a beautiful eco-tourism destination bounding with outdoor recreational opportunities, Maya Archeological Parks, Caves, Rivers, Waterfalls and of course the largest reef in the Caribbean! We encourage our guests to visit local attractions during their stay with us and we can help plan your excursions.

Kitchen & Laundry

Students enrolled in courses have breakfasts, most lunches and some dinners included. No kitchen is needed. Laundry service is available. Interns have access to a kitchen with cooking utensils, stove, and basic appliances (as available). Interns must supply their own food. Laundry services are available in San Ignacio/Santa Elena.

Videos & Photos Permission

Interns and students are routinely filmed and photographed during BWRC wildlife rescue events. If you are not willing to be on film or in photographs, please inform the photographer on site.


BWRC arranges housing at local hotels and guest houses for interns and students. Standard accommodations include multiple occupancies, shared bath & kitchenette. Upgrades and private accommodations are available upon request. Students and interns have free access to BWRC’s kayaks for wildlife spotting and recreation.

What to pack:

The big day is quickly approaching when you’ll depart to Belize to begin your adventure with BWRC, and we want to make sure that you are clear on what to expect when you arrive. Internship and course durations vary, and you should pack accordingly. Any interns undertaking specialized internships should inquire about specific items to bring. Please feel free conttact us with any questions or concerns between now and the time you depart for Belize. 

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Note that we do charge a small registration fee of $50.00
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