All eyes are on South Africa this week, where over 3,500 government representatives and animal protectionist groups from all over the world are meeting with the aim of preventing endangered species from being hunted and traded into extinction. Unsurprisingly, the internet has focused a lot on Africa’s wildlife: articles showing new research on the decline of African Elephants, petitions for rhinos etc. However, there is another animal who has seemingly been forgotten in the midst of the more well-known African species’ protection. The Grey Parrot, native to equatorial Africa, these Psittaciformes have been lead to decline through the exotic pet trade where they are taken and sold for thousands to buyers wanting to collect them. This surge in selling is responsible for Grey Parrot numbers decreasing 90-99% in Ghana in 23 years.
The issue lies within local people capturing and selling the birds, becoming profitable from the exploitation. Exotic pet fanatics are not the kind looking for a lizard or tarantula, they want the parrot to spend it’s 40 -60 year lifespan in captivity and away from their natural African environment, consisting of gallery and savannah forests. Buyers are usually from Europe, South Africa, the Middle East and China paying anything from £1,000 – £10,000 for an African Grey. Their method? Pet trading websites are the most popular way of getting these birds where, once paid for, will be captured and smuggled over borders. Restrictions have been put in place to stop this since 2009 but this effort pales in comparison to the vulnerability of the species.
Looking forward, it is possible to conserve this species with numbers remaining at 120,100 and 259,000 worldwide. Now, whilst African Wildlife is in discussion, is the time to raise concerns about these creatures. “Cites has remarkable power. It is a pragmatic and honest convention. Discussions can be robust and intense. If there is no consensus on a request, it goes to a vote. The stage is set for a remarkable two weeks,” said Scanlon.
Image credit to dailymail (African Grey Parrot) and Wikipedia (Habitat range map)
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