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Cape Parrot

 (Poicephalus robustus)
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© Cape Parrot Working Group

Project Status: Active | 1994 - current


Isdell Foundation, and The Percy FitzPatrick Institute for African Ornithology (University of Cape Town), Birdlife South Africa and the Cape Parrot Working Group (CPWG)

Many threats put parrot at grave risk

The Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus) has undergone a population collapse over the last 50 – 100 years as a result of forest loss, trade and disease.

Progress and outcomes: Starting in the mid-1990s WPT has supported the work of a number of scientists, including Drs. Rowan Martin, Steve Boyes, Craig Symes, Colleen Downs, Mike Perrin and Olaf Wirminghaus, to help save this parrot. Since then there has been work to restore habitat and aid breeding, and study population and disease. Local communities have become involved in caring for the critical Afromontane forests that are vital to the survival of the parrots. Much has also been accomplished with the Cape Parrot Big Birding Day, an annual event organised by Dr. Colleen Downs, that involves local people in monitoring the species' population.

View research papers

Focus of future work: Since 2013 WPT has aided new efforts to monitor Cape Parrot populations and spread awareness of the plight of these birds.  The Trust is also increasing its efforts to work with other organisations in their endeavours to help the Cape Parrot.

With your help we can complete these important tasks to better understand the species, and continue to deliver effective solutions to further their conservation. 


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IUCN/CITES Status: Least Concern / Appendix II

World population: Less than 1200

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 30 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. They are also threatened by capture for the wild-caught bird trade and disease (specifically Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PFBD). The Cape Parrot is not recognized as a separate species by BirdLife International.


  • 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.

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