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Timneh Parrot

 (Psittacus timneh)
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Timneh Parrot

Project Status: Active | current

Collaborators/Funders

IBAP (National Institute for Biodiversity and Protected Areas), the Coastal Planning Cabinet of Guinea-Bissau, Dr. Paulo Catry (ISPA – Instituto Universitário, Portugal), Dr. Davide De Guz, The Wara Conservation Project (SALF and GALF programmes), Save Our Species (SOS), ZooMarine Portugal, Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, Bridging Peace Foundation, Folke H Peterson Trust, MAVA, Explore Trees

Species suffering massive declines

Heavy trapping and habitat loss are fueling population declines of the Timneh Parrot in many parts of West Africa.

Progress and outcomes: In early 2013 the World Parrot Trust received a report from the Guinea Application of Wildlife Law (GALF) of a group of confiscated birds, including thirteen Timneh Parrots. WPT sent veterinarian Dr. Davide de Guz to care for the birds, and provided funding and cameras for documentation of their recovery and release. 

Since 2014 WPT has been working with regional partners to document the species' ecology and population numbers. Studies have uncovered one significant population in Sierra Leone. On October 2, 2016 after gathering data with field partners, WPT presented evidence at the CoP17 (Conference of the Parties for CITES 17). Delegates voted by a wide margin to uplist both Grey and Timneh Parrots to Appendix I, thus ending commercial trade in wild birds. In December 2016 IUCN uplisted the species to Endangered. In 2017-2018, the team investigated the distribution, trends and threats to Timneh Parrots on the islands of the Bijagós archipelago and Pecixe. A total of 69 groups were observed on eight of these islands, with the majority (78%) seen on just two islands. Forty-two interviews were conducted with local communities on 24 islands, where it was reported that populations have declined in recent decades. Based on this data the entire population in Guinea-Bissau is thought to be several hundred individuals.

Within the Bijagós islands UNESCO Biosphere reserve community-based initiatives have involved employing former parrot poachers to monitor and guard nests.

Focus of future work: WPT will continue to support research and surveys in both Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau, as well as helping local officials to care for birds which are still being illegally trapped. Another important objective will be to identify key wild populations in order to put measures into place to protect them.

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IUCN/CITES Status: Endangered / Appendix I

World population: 100,000–500,000, decreasing.

Where found: Is endemic to the western parts of the moist Upper Guinea forests and bordering savannas of West Africa extending from the Bijagós islands of Guinea-Bissau eastwards through southern Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire.

History: The Timneh Parrot, or Psittacus timneh, is native to W Upper Guinea forests and savannas of West Africa, from Guinea-Bissau east through Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and S Mali east to at least 70 km east of the Bandama River in Côte d'Ivoire.  High rates of trapping for the wild bird trade and habitat loss have caused heavy declines throughout the range of this species. The largest populations of Timnehs are thought be in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia.  Counts completed in 1992 revealed a total population estimate of 120,000-259,000 individuals (Dändliker 1992). The species has vanished from the forests on and near Mt Nimba in Nimba County, Liberia; surveys conducted between 2008-2011 in the East Nimba Nature Reserve and nearby forest failed to find birds.  Local people have also indicated that they have not seen the birds (B. Phalan and F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012).  In Gola Forest in Sierra Leone populations never seem to have been abundant historically (J. Lindsell and F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012). Between 1982 and 2011, large numbers of the birds have been trapped: 191,837 wild-caught individuals were recorded in international trade (UNEP-WCMC 2012).

Threats:

  • Heavy trapping for the wild bird trade (199,070 individuals from 2005-2014)
  • Habitat loss, up to three-quarters of forest cover in some cases

Ecology: Timneh Parrots are found in primary and secondary rainforest, forest edges and clearings, gallery forest,  mangroves, savanna and cultivated land. Diet consists of a variety of seeds, nuts, fruits (including oil-palm) and berries.  Birds will sometimes travel vast distances for food. They are generally seen in small, but vocal, flocks of a few dozen, usually not more.

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