Harteman Wildfowl, presented by Jan Harteman
Chauna chavaria inhabits lowland marshes, swamps, lagoons, the banks of slow-flowing rivers and seasonally flooded alluvial plains in north-west Venezuela (around Lago Maracaibo in Zuila, Mérida and Trujillo) and north Colombia (from the lower Atrato valley east to the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta and the Cesar valley, and south in the middle Magdalena valley to south Bolívar).
The upper Cauca valley holds a tiny, isolated and apparently declining population. Numbers have been estimated at c. 2,000 individuals in Venezuela which, with a similar sized population in Colombia, suggests a total population of 3,000-5,000. However, this may under-estimate the Colombian population, with 5,000 or more birds perhaps a more accurate guess. Loss of habitat owing to drainage of wetlands for cattle and agriculture is probably resulting in slow population declines, but is unlikely to affect seasonally flooded and deeper wetlands in the near future. Collection of eggs, capture as pets and possibly illegal hunting in some areas, are unquantified threats. Construction of a pipeline and road through the wetlands of the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta and Isla de Salamanca in the mid-1970s obstructed tidal flow and caused extensive mangrove die-back, continuing until at least 1992. In the same area, there is domestic and industrial pollution and sewage, urbanisation and mangrove cutting.