An important interview with Dr. Steve Boyes and the work he is doing to save the African Grey Parrot from extinction.
According to the video:
20% of the global African Grey Parrot population is being removed from the wild each year and put into breeding mills to produce parrots for the pet trade. 2 – 2.5 million parrots have been removed from the wild over the last 20 years by local trappers. This is anywhere from 50 – 100,000 parrots a year. If this trend continues, African Grey Parrots will be extinct in the wild within the next 15 – 20 years.
Even now, there are local extinctions in Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kigosi. This is being called the “African Silence” or “Dead Zones”.
These wild parrots are sent to countries with poor regulations (ie. South Africa or Sri Lanka), and used as breeding stock in bird mills to produce parrots classified as captive-bred for the pet trade. These offspring are then legal to transport around the world. The wild-caught parrots only live for about 3-5 years in the bird mills before they stop laying eggs and then they are either euthanized or laundered into the pet trade. In the wild, African Grey parrots live an estimated 60 – 65 years.
Some more numbers: in 2009, 5,000 wild caught parrots were imported into South Africa, which then exported 26,000 (“captive-bred”) parrots that same year. Each bird is sold for over $2,500 each.
About the post headline: In the video, you will hear Dr. Boyes relate a story about a parrot whose first constructed sentence was “I wanna go tree”.
“Parrots are second only to drugs when it comes to goods smuggled from Mexico to the United States. The profit margin is identical and the risk of getting caught is much smaller.” Contraband and the Illegal Wildlife Trade
“An estimated 25,000 wild parrots, caught or plucked from their nests in Mexico, are smuggled across the Texas border each year.” Parrot Trade
“This illegal worldwide wildlife trade is estimated by Interpol to be valued at US $10 billion every year and is the third biggest illegal trade in the world only surpassed by guns and drug trafﬁcking (CCAAN 2005) and parrots are often a signiﬁcant part of this illegal trafﬁc (e.g.Wagener 2001, Herrera and Hennessey 2007). Illegal trade is thought to contribute to the threatened status of 66 parrot species worldwide including 27 in South America, where it is believed to have caused the probable extinction in the wild of Spix’s Macaw Cyanospitta spixii (Birdlife 2008, IUCN 2008).” A study of the parrot trade in Peru and the potential importance of internal trade forthreatened species
“According to Juan Carlos Cantu, Director of Defenders of Wildlife in Mexico, the illegal parrot trade industry is the second biggest threat to wild parrot populations, second only to habitat loss.” Polly Doesn’t Want a Cracker
The Endangered Species Handbook, by the Animal Welfare Institute.
Help wild parrots by supporting conservation programs such as:
The Save the Greys Fund by the World Parrot Trust aims to:
- End the trade in wild caught African parrots
- Rehabilitate and release confiscated birds
- Re-establish wild populations in suitable areas of their former range
- Raise awareness for the plight of wild Grey Parrots
The World Parrot Trust’s FlyFree programme is designed to rescue, rehabilitate and release the parrots caught in the wild-bird trade.