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Is an End to the Trade in Wild Grey Parrots in Sight?

Rowan Martin, PhD | Aug 16, 2016


An end to the trade in wild-caught African Grey parrots has come one step closer to reality. A number of African countries (including Gabon, Angola, Chad, Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo) together with the European Union and United States have submitted a proposal to transfer Grey and Timneh parrots to CITES Appendix 1. If accepted, it will halt all international trade in wild Greys, saving tens of thousands of wild birds each year.

It may surprise many to learn that a legal trade in wild caught Grey parrots is still permitted under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora known as CITES. Over the last 40 years, over 1.3 million African Greys have been exported. Taking into account those that die before export, and illegal and unreported trade the true number of parrots taken from the wild is much higher. This is unsustainable.

Photo: African Grey Parrots drawn to trap site. Photo by Andrew Barnard

Recent studies show declines of 90-99% over the last two decades in Ghana and there is little evidence that declines are less severe elsewhere in West Africa. In the Congo Basin, where the largest populations occur, rapid increases in trapping have been recorded in recent years. Trappers report moving into increasingly remote areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following declines in the elsewhere of the country. The DRC exports thousands of Grey parrots each year, often far in excess of CITES quotas. See:’s-grey-parrot-population-may-soon-cease-exist.

Also, see:

Trapped African Grey Parrots, crated for export. Photo by: Lukuru Foundation

Next month, the decision-makers at CITES will consider a proposal to transfer Grey and Timneh parrots to CITES Appendix 1. Under the leadership of the World Parrot Trust, we are asking the public to weigh in by signing a petition in support of the up-listing. See here:

In just a few days, over 40,000 people have signed the petition.  My deepest thanks to those of you that have already signed, and a sincere invitation to those who have not to please consider. The fate of one of nature’s most intelligent and beautiful parrots may hang in the balance.