World population: Less than 1600
Where found: Endemic to the Republic of South Africa, extending from the Amathole and Transkei regions, to southern KwaZulu-Natal, and an isolated forest in the Limpopo Province.
History: Cape Parrots are recognized as critically endangered in South Africa, having undergone a population collapse over the last 50 – 100 years. The global Cape parrot population is split equally between two separate populations in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, with an additional isolated group of approximately 100 parrots living in the Woodbush-Wolkberg forests, Limpopo Province. Over 300 years of unsustainable logging of yellowwood trees from the Afromontane mistbelt forest of South Africa has left only remnant forest patches. By the early 1970s, the Cape parrots’ coastal summer feeding grounds had been greatly fragmented. The parrots relied on them for their daily feeding forays and so then became dependent on exotic food resources, such as planted pecans, during the summer months. This began the so-called “Pecan Wars,” during which thousands of Cape parrots were killed by shooting and netting them in the orchards. Conservation authorities finally stepped in, halting the shooting by paying compensation to farmers and buying their pecan orchards. Unfortunately the Cape parrot disappeared from the coast in the 1980s and have not been seen since.
- Habitat destruction
- Unsustainable trapping for bird trade
- Slow reproductive rate
- Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD)
- Persecution as a crop pest
Ecology: This species prefers high altitude Afromontane mistbelt mixed Podocarpus forest patches above 1,400m (4,200ft) and lowland/coastal forest during feeding forays. Birds feed on Podocarpus fruits, and on a variety of seeds from different tree species. They have also been recorded feeding on introduced food resources such as apples, plums, cherries, acorns, pine seeds, and Eucalyptus flowers. Birds roost communally in flocks of up to 10 parrots in large Eucalyptus or Podocarpus trees. The Cape parrot travels vast distances (up to 100km) to preferred feeding sites, often staying for weeks to exploit this food resource. They are shy and easily disturbed when feeding.
Research and publications: Google scholar - Cape Parrot