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African Grey Parrots - New Conservation

New Hope for African Grey Parrots


Exotic birds are popular pets and it isn’t difficult to see why. These colourful and intelligent creatures are both beautiful and fascinating. Unfortunately, their popularity has made them valuable assets for unscrupulous traffickers who poach the birds from the wild. Many species are now vulnerable or even endangered due to illicit international trade and one of them is the much loved African grey parrot.

These birds are easy to capture. Teams of hunters use decoys or visit where the birds drink. They then throw nets over them and are able to trap dozens of specimens at a time. They are then stuffed unceremoniously into tiny cages and shipped illegally to destinations all over the world.


Seeking Improved Protection for African Greys


In early October, representatives from governments around the world met in Johannesburg for a crucial wildlife conference. The 17th Conference of the Parties was the latest in a series of meetings between the 183 countries which are bound by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This is an agreement which was established to protect the long term survival of the threatened species.


The latest meeting was much anticipated and was seen by many as the best hope for several threatened species which are need of greater protection. One of these was the African grey parrot which had become probably the world’s most trafficked bird. Over the last 40 years it is thought that up to three million African greys have been taken from the forests of West and Central Africa. Up to 90 per cent of these do not survive their subsequent journey. It is thought that only 1% of their historical numbers remain in the wild.


The Right Outcome


Many people were desperate to see these birds receive improved protection and they would have been delighted with the outcome of the conference. A motion to increase their protection was passed and they will now benefit from the highest level of protection offered having been upgraded from Appendix II to Appendix I. The trade in captive-bred specimens will not be affected but pet owners who emigrate will require a pet passport for their parrots.


CITES consider the African grey parrot to be a single species. However, BirdLife International considers the Timneh parrot from central Côte d’Ivoire westwards and Grey Parrot from eastern Côte d’Ivoire east across Central Africa to be separate species. Both are covered by the increased protection and both are listed as vulnerable species on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (ICUN) Red List. They are both currently under consideration for being upgraded to Endangered.


Winning the War on Trafficking


The motion received enthusiastic support from nations across the globe. Those concerned for the future of the African grey could breathe a sigh of relief. However, despite a victory in this particular battle, the war has yet to be won.


If you are considering investing in an African grey parrot, then do take steps to ensure that it is captive bred specimen.


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