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African Gray Parrot Populations in Decline Throughout Central Africa- Bird Conservation


African GraysStrict regulations requiring that all parrots sold within the USA be captive-bred have been very effective in controlling the trade in wild-caught birds, and in spurring captive breeding efforts in this country.  So it came as quite a surprise to learn that both legal and illegal collecting is still taking a significant toll on wild African gray parrots (Psittacus erithacus).  Studies showing declines in most of the 23 countries in which this magnificent bird occurs have sparked a review of its CITES and IUCN listings.

The Continuing Trade in Wild Parrots

CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) statistics show that 360,000 African gray parrots were legally exported from Africa between 1994 and 2003, 93% of which went to Europe.  This is also surprising, given that adults trapped in the wild make poor pets, and chicks are difficult to ship safely.

These figures do not take illegally collected birds into account, and there is no way to access the environmental havoc caused by the felling of nest trees (a common collecting technique).

Proposed Conservation Initiatives

In view of the fact that current quotas have failed to protect the African gray parrot, CITES will review the matter when its members meet in July of 2009, and the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) may reclassify the species as “endangered”.  One nation within the parrot’s range, Angola, is not a CITES member and hence would be unaffected by any decisions rendered.

Leading conservationists are calling for a ban on all exports of wild-caught African gray parrots.  European Union nations temporarily suspended the importation of African gray parrots in 2008, after several wild-caught individuals were found to be infected with a lethal form of avian flu.

Further Reading

Please see my article on the Natural History of the African Gray Parrot for further information on this species in the wild.

You can read the most recent CITES report on the status of wild African gray parrots at http://www.cites.org/eng/com/AC/22/E22-10-2-A1.pdf.



  1. avatar

    its the convention not committee of international trade etc etc

  2. avatar

    Hello Marta, Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for your interest in our blog.

    You are quite correct; the proper name is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. I seem to have a mental block on that point, and have made the same mistake on occasion for decades now! Thanks.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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