Grey parrots are endangered and their populations are collapsing across Africa — except for one small oceanic island. Why?
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Wild grey parrots taking flight (Credit: Andrew Bernard, USFWS / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Andrew Bernard, USFWS, via a Creative Commons license
According to a number of recent studies (for example, this one), the world’s wild parrots are on a fast track towards extinction, and it’s all out fault. According to that study, we are not setting aside enough protected spaces to protect parrots, few of these protected spaces are located where wild parrots actually live, and fewer still are large enough for wild parrots to actually comfortably live within.
Now that we have a good idea of what we should do to help all wild parrots, what might we learn if we carefully examine how might these proposed recommendations affect one particularly heavily traded species of parrot? Take Africa’s grey parrots, Psittacus erithacus, for example. On one hand, their situation looks quite desperate because wild populations of the grey parrot (also known in the pet trade as the Congo African grey parrot) are collapsing, thanks to runaway trapping to meet the demands of the multi-million dollar international pet trade (ref), for eating, and for use in traditional ‘medicines’ (ref)…