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Black-cheeked Lovebird

 (Agapornis nigrigenis)
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© Louise Warburton, University of Natal

Project Status: Completed | 1995-2004


University of Natal, The Foundation for Research and Development (RSA), the Wildlife Conservation Society (USA), the Zambezi Society (UK), the Canadian World Parrot Trust, the German Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations, the International Fund for Animal Welfare Charitable Trust (UK), The British Ornithological Union (UK), The Lovebird (1990) Society (UK), The Parrot Society (UK) and The Conservation in Aviculture Society (UK). British Airways Assisting Conservation provided flights to Durban.

Black-cheeked Lovebird population numbers less than 15,000

The wild population of the Black-cheeked Lovebird (Agapornis nigrigenis) has severely declined since the 1920s.

Project progress: The World Parrot Trust, along with a number of other concerned groups, has been involved in conservation and research for the Black-cheeked Lovebird.  One study’s aim was to:

  • To map the distribution of Agapornis nigrigenis
  • Estimate abundance
  • Identify habitat requirements
  • To evaluate all threats limiting the population's recovery
  • To create a sound method of population monitoring
  • To involve local people in the development of a long-term monitoring programme

Outcomes: This aid, via the Canadian World Parrot Trust, was from 1995 to 2004, sponsoring researcher Louise Warburton's work surveying populations, habitat requirements, feeding, reproduction and captive management. Efforts in this research led to new insights regarding the species' ecology.

IUCN/CITES Status: Vulnerable / Appendix II

Wild population: 3500 – 15,000

Where found: Highly restricted range, from southern Kafue National Park, SW Zambia along Zambesi valley to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

History:  The Black-cheeked Lovebird (Agapornis nigrigenis) has suffered steep declines since the 1920s, when people began to heavily exploit it for the cage-bird trade. Since then trade has lessened, but degradation of this species' habitat, killing for food and sport, and a changeover to new crops of sorghum and millet, a food source, has decreased wild numbers. This species’ population is also suspected to be declining due to habitat destruction (L. S. Warburton in litt. 2007), although the rate of loss has not been estimated.


  • Heavy past exploitation for the cage-bird trade
  • Gradual destruction and drying out of habitat
  • Exploitation of Mopane woodland for firewood and timber
  • Changes to cultivated food sources
  • Some capture for subsistence consumption
  • Persecution as a pest
  • Poisoning of water to catch fish also affecting the species

Ecology: These lovebirds are found in mopane and Acacia woodland; also in riparian forests and areas with fig trees.  They are found at 600-1000m (1968-3280 ft).  Groups of birds forage for seeds (annual herbs), grain, flowers, buds, young leaves and berries. In general they stay near a water source, and are found in flocks of up to a few dozen birds. May roost communally.

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