Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw: One Woman’s Fight to Save the World’s Most Beautiful Bird
by Bruce Barcott
I had this book in my possession for a good six months before picking it up to read, encouraged by a fellow birder who said it was a great story. And although it was published in 2009, I have come to find out that many do not know of this book.
Sharon Matola, an unlikely hero, former circus performer, and now an ‘expat’ zoo keeper in Belize and not one of the best with diplomatic skills to say the least, decides to try to stop a dam being built in Belize. The dam would flood the habitat where the last 200 Scarlet Macaws are residing in Belize.
Under the skillful writing of Bruce Barcott, the book is a page-turner. He creates a dramatic, suspenseful, quick pace portrayal of the blatant corruption, greed, conspiracy (e.g. a geologist hired by the government erases seismic fault lines on the survey where the dam is to be located) and the backroom politics of this tiny nation. Barcott winds in and out of the regional geopolitics, history of dam building in the world and the destruction of free-flowing rivers, colonialism, environmental and globalization issues all the while highlighting the personal fervor and passion of one woman trying to save the macaws. Her efforts ‘won’ her being named an “enemy of the state.”
Matola’s website states that this book is now part of the required reading for environmental science courses in at least five universities in the US.
A most engaging book!
– Penny Warren, President, Augusta Bird Club, February 2015
Learn more about Sharon Matola’s current activities through The Belize Zoo Blog.
Find out more about her and her love of Belize in this 2006 interview with BELIZEmagazine.com.