Message from Jamie Gilardi, Ph.D. (Executive Director, World Parrot Trust):
“In less time than it takes you to read this message you can help save thousands of wild African Grey Parrots from a cruel and unnecessary fate.It’s rare to have the opportunity to influence the lives of so many incredibly intelligent and threatened birds, but right now you can, simply by signing this petition.
Next week in Switzerland (July 23, 2012), a small gathering of people who decide how wildlife can and can’t be traded around the world (the CITES Standing Committee) will decide on the fate of thousands of wild African Grey Parrots. Specifically, Congo – one of the largest exporters of these birds – is hoping to continue the practice of legally capturing these birds to sell to Asia and the Middle East.
Their quota of 5,000 birds is regularly exceeded. And in Cameroon, despite a zero export quota for this species, a total of over 5,000 birds were exported in the last four years for which data is available. So, this decision next week will decide the fate of thousands of African Grey Parrots traded … every year.
Now is our chance to urge CITES to protect this Globally Threatened Species from such unsustainable pressures. If we can get CITES to adopt a trade suspension from these two countries, we’ll not only spare thousands of birds, we will help turn the tide on the trade in wild parrots for good.
Please join us, sign your name, get all your friends to do the same, and help us save thousands of wild parrots today!
Thank you for your support!”
Imagine yourself standing in front of over 1,000 African grey parrots drinking together in the Congo forest. The deafening squawks, the chaos of vibrant life, the grey storm when they all take off together in fright! A combination of nets and snares set around this waterhole the next morning would wipe out most of this local population. Never to be seen again. Grey parrots are typically collected from trappers in remote forests for $1-10 each, held for up to 6 months in crude quarantine facilities at major centres (e.g. Kinshasa), and then exported to places like South Africa, Bahrain, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Taiwan and Pakistan where there are established markets or commercial breeding facilities. In South Africa, we are faced with the emergence of African grey parrot “bird mills” that exploit wild-caught parrots like battery chickens. Suitable grey parrots are used to produce hundreds of eggs that are incubated, hatched, and the pre-weaned chicks exported to emerging markets.
Why not use captive-bred grey parrots as breeding stock? Captive-bred parrots are simply too expensive to raise all the way to breeding age with food, veterinary care and housing costing far more than the parrots will ever be worth. Hatchlings being prepared for breeding also need to be parent-raised, which reduces productivity considerably. The return on investment is, therefore, extremely slow and extremely risky. Running captive breeding programs without using wild-caught breeding stock, therefore, require specialist knowledge, passion, and long hours. The market right now, however, can only support these “bird mills” that pump out hundreds of chicks a week at low cost using wild-caught breeding stock. Prices are simply too low due to lack of government support. We need to shutdown the pipeline of big numbers of cheap, high-quality, wild-caught grey parrots of breeding age, as with sexed and paired wild grey parrots you can start exporting within 12 months and get the cash rolling in. By 2009, so many South African bird breeders and exporters had adopted this lucrative business plan that we reached a tipping point, which saw South African imports of African greys exceed the CITES export quota for the DRC. The DRC had a quota of 5,000, yet exported over 12,000. In 2009, South Africa imported over 5,000 wild-caught African greys from the DRC, and bizarrely exported over 25,000 to emerging markets that same year. If we are so good at breeding African grey parrots, why do we need to continue decimating wild populations? Because this is what we are allowing to happen. Conservationists working in the vast forests of the DRC are literally unable to keep up with the advance of this unethical and unsustainable trade. There are now “dead zones” in these forests where neither parrot nor monkey can be heard anymore. In this day and age, the global avicultural industry must take sole responsibility for supplying the requirements of the international pet trade. With a human population exceeding 7 million and resources stretched to the limit, we need to be very careful about the sustainability of any further harvesting from wild population of any species. Right now we are on a roller coaster ride to the biggest, fastest, most profound mass extinction ever. We need to be brave and protect species and places that are dear to us with everything we have…
Join the World Parrot Trust by urgently calling for a moratorium on this trade by signing this petition: http://www.causes.com/causes/10094-world-parrot-trust/actions/1667574
To: CITES Secretariat
We respectfully request that CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) suspend all trade of African Grey Parrots (Psittacus erithacus) from the countries of Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo.This species has recently been designated a Globally Threatened Species on the IUCN’s Red List chiefly as a result of declines caused by capture for the pet trade. Moreover, violations of the CITES procedures and quotas have been clearly documented in both countries in recent years, providing a clear indicator of the likelihood of future lack of compliance. Suspensions of trade in this species with both countries are warranted under the CITES Review of Significant Trade as these countries have failed to implement the recommendations of the CITES Animals Committee.
The export of Grey Parrots from DR Congo is of special concern. For over a decade the export quotas have been consistently exceeded. The UNEP-WCMC data for the years 2005-2010 shows that quotas were exceeded by more than 50% in 2005, 2008, and 2009; in 2009 the quota was exceeded by more than 100%. This trend has been ongoing since 1995.
For Cameroon, as you know a zero export quota was established by the CITES Review of Significant Trade beginning in 2007. In reality, Cameroon went on to allow the export of 4,715 grey parrots in 2007, 708 birds in 2008, 10 birds in 2009, and one shipment of 300 wild-caught individuals in 2010 (data from WCMC).
Whilst these exports from Cameroon were a lamentable violation of the zero export quota, the clarity of that zero quota created a welcome change in enforcement policies there. Since 2007, the Cameroon enforcement authorities have confiscated thousands of illegally trapped birds. Their rehabilitation and release has led to new populations of Grey Parrots in parts of their former range. These confiscations underscore the effectiveness of clear and unambiguous wildlife policies at the national and international level, they empower wildlife enforcement authorities to take swift and effective action, and they strongly suggest that trade suspensions will lead to similarly productive outcomes in both Cameroon and DR Congo.
In sum, we feel that such suspensions will be a crucial step toward the recovery of this Threatened species and an appropriate and much-needed response to this significant and on-going threat to the African Grey Parrot’s survival in the wild.
Watch these YouTube videos for background information:
- The Unsustainable African Grey Parrot Trade in South Africa: http://youtu.be/lB9mzkIKgCA
- Interview with Boyd Matson on the Unethical Trade in Wild African Grey Parrots on National Geographic Weekend… http://youtu.be/TewGxvKxQpw
- Radio Interview in South Africa about the Catastrophic Trade in Grey Parrots: http://youtu.be/JIJ2GThisSg
- “Where are the Congo 500?” – Eyewitness News: http://youtu.be/s-U40azJp-o
- The World’s Most Traded Wild Birds – Senegal Parrots, Color Morphs and the Wild-caught Bird Trade: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/01/17/the-worlds-most-traded-wild-birds-senegal-parrots-color-morphs-and-the-wild-caught-bird-trade/
- Mystery Death of 687 Wild Grey Parrots on 1 hour Flight to Durban Revisited: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2011/12/27/mystery-death-of-687-wild-grey-parrots-on-1-hour-flight-to-durban-revisited/
- Wildlife Trade and Uncontrolled Deforestation Threatens African Parrots: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2011/12/19/wildlife-trade-and-uncontrolled-deforestation-threaten-africa%e2%80%99s-parrots%e2%80%a6/