Protecting world’s third-most traded bird at CITES

The trade of African grey parrots for pets, and the fragmentation of their habitat, has been especially detrimental for wild populations throughout their range across Africa. Photo: © Pond 5/Panu RuangjanWhile some may think of the Africa grey parrot as nothing more than a common house pet—very talkative in nature and marked with white around the eye fading into a frosted grey plumage — it is tragically under intense pressure from exploitation, being the third-most internationally traded, wild-harvested bird species.

That is despite the fact that in 1981, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Parties listed the African grey parrot on Appendix II due to the potential impact of commercial trade on its population at that time. Multiple reviews of trade in this species, the most recent being in 2014, have highlighted urgent concerns around unsustainable levels of trade

Populations of African greys have decreased by 50-90 percent in some areas of its current distribution with very low numbers recorded in Angola, Benin, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea—Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Togo.

Biologically, the species is vulnerable because the birds have a low reproductive rate. They generally lay 3-5 eggs per year in the cavities of large trees but their annual breeding success is only 1-2 fledglings. Further, these breeding patterns and the social behaviors that make them so desirable as pets, makes African grey parrot chicks easy targets for traders to snatch from their nests and sell for the pet trade.

It is time that CITES uplists the African grey parrot to Appendix I to protect this bird from the commercial and unsustainable exploitation it has endured over the last few decades.

Seven African countries sponsored the proposal: Angola, Chad, Gabon, Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo; plus, the European Union and the United States; and nine more African countries indicated support: Burundi, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea—Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

IFAW urges Parties to support additional levels of protection for African grey parrots and thus SUPPORTS the proposal from Gabon et al to transfer African grey parrots from Appendix II to Appendix I of CITES.


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