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The African Grey Parrot

Now Listed as Endangered Species


UN Wildlife Conference Bans Global Trade Of Africa's Grey Parrots

CITES Approves Trade Ban For Africa's Grey Parrots a couple years ago but is now taking and making an effect across the globe including the USA price of this species.

One hundred and eighty-three member states gathered at the CITES Cop17 meeting in Johannesburg and voted decisively in a secret ballot to provide the greatest protection possible to the endangered African grey parrot

If you live with a companion African grey parrot, then you should know that international commercial trade of wild African grey parrots was just banned. This decision was made by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) members, which concluded their 12-day Conference of Parties (CoP17) today in Johannesburg, South Africa. This trade ban is intended to reverse sharp population declines of wild grey parrots in 14 of their 18 range countries, caused by

illegal trapping for the pet trade and by rampant habitat fragmentation and loss of forests.

"During the past 25 years, more than 1.5 million wild African greys have been taken from their native habitats, making them one of the most traded of all CITES-listed parrots," said Daniel Ashe, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director and head of the U.S. CITES delegation.Between 1975 and 2013, more than 1.3 million wild African greys were legally exported from their range states. In 1981, concerns about the potential impact of overexploitation on these parrots' populations led to the species being listed on CITES Appendix II, which allows for only limited global trade.

But their populations still declined. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) estimates that many more wild grey parrots -- between 2.1 and 3.2 million -- were captured than officially reported, but 40-60% died due to poor capture and transport practices. Grey parrots also suffered from a poor quota system; poor management and regulation of trade; and fraudulent permitting. Combined, these factors precipitated severe population declines in wild grey parrots. According to a 2016 study, the

African grey parrot experienced population declines of 90-99% in Ghana, where the species is now considered to be "virtually eliminated" means EXTINCT due to poaching for the pet trade and to habitat loss (ref). “Grey parrot populations in Ghana have declined catastrophically and the species is now very rare across the country,” said a co-author of the study, Professor Nigel Collar from BirdLife International.

“Illegal trade must surely have contributed to the post-1990 declines that we report,” said another of the study's co-authors, Stuart Marsden, a Reader in Conservation Ecology at Manchester Metropolitan University."This is affirmed by the fact that in the years 1991–2012 when trade was outlawed and Ghana’s reported exports of grey parrots totaled just 35 individuals, the population in the country still declined by 95%,” Dr. Marsden said.

But African grey parrots are sharply declining everywhere throughout their range.

"It is extremely rare or locally extinct in Benin, Burundi, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Togo," said Susan Lieberman, Vice President of International Policy at the Wildlife Conservation Society, in a statement.

The proposal to "uplist" these parrots to Appendix I(endangered speciees and protected) was submitted by five range states (Gabon, Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau, Angola and Togo), and was co-sponsored by Chad, Senegal, the U.S.A. and the E.U. After a heated debate where South Africa, Cameroon, the D.R.C., Brazil, Norway, the U.A.E., Bahrain, Japan, and China strongly advocated for continued trade, a motion by Kuwait resulted in the first ever secret ballot held by CITES. The secret ballot received 95 votes in support of uplisting grey parrots, with 35 votes against and 5 abstentions.According to CITES, there are two formally recognized subspecies of African grey parrots, the larger erroneouslly called Congo African grey, Psittacus erithacus erithacus, and the smaller Timneh African grey, P. e. timneh. Both subspecies are now listed as Appendix I (endangered species). (Other agencies have officially classified African grey parrots as ONLY two distinct species.)

This is referred to as red tail and timneh. There are no species such as cameroon greys or congo grey as a real classed species, these are names given by dealers and sellers to gain a higher price as make their birds sound more exotic and does not reflect a species but more in a geo variation label , reference writers and researchers: as researched and published by Royal Bird Avicultural Breeding Research Center in eastern USA NC

Globally, African grey parrots are highly prized pets, often referred to as the "Einsteins" of the parrot world because of their talking ability and their intelligence. For example, during a 30-year study, captive-bred Congo African grey parrot Alex showed that he could identify 50 different objects and understand quantities up to six; he could distinguish seven colors and five shapes, and understand the concepts of "bigger," "smaller," "same," "different," "over" and "under" -- and he was the first animal to ever demonstrate that he comprehended the concept of "zero."

A CITES Appendix I listing is intended to improve the welfare and conservation of the dwindling populations of wild African grey parrots by protecting them from uncontrolled and illegal trade; and by requiring their range countries to support efforts to increase protections for them. But this global uplisting also raises important policy and paperwork issues associated with keeping and breeding domestic grey parrots (legally imported, often generations ago) by zoos, aviculturists and pet owners as NOW these birds are considered endangered species and will fall into many regulated fallouts, as many USA states ban this, housing, keeping breeding and selling endangered species is regulated by ALL USA states and is enforced by US Fish Wildlife Services. -- and these are not trivial concerns considering how popular this parrot is throughout the USA and world.

It is now underway to monitor, control and prohibit interstate travels of even domestically USA bred african grey birds. It is now thought that the breeding of the species in the USA where once common, is now breeding at an all time low, this partly due to lost interest in aviculture as the old timers retire and younger generations have less interest in breeding. We feel that the species will decline in the USA to an all time low by 2025. This global uplisting will increase prices worldwide for all domestically raised birds. Even in countries where the species is well established like the USA. The time is coming to an end for cheap birds.

During the 12-day UN conference, 62 proposals were considered to tighten or loosen trade restrictions for roughly 500 species. The CITES treaty, signed by 182 countries and by the E.U., protects approximately 5,600 animal and 30,000 plant species from over-exploitation due to commercial trade.

So the race is on to keep and reproduce this species African grey as well many others and save it from further decline. Many people have ask the question, why would prices be increasing on a species that was already banned from being imported into the USA back in 92.

We have seen prices have already started rising across the USA and around the world based entirely on status not supply. The price increases are based on what we in the trade call, status price increase ,meaning the demand or supply is not what is driving the price in the USA but more based on the regulated status as this in fact will bring prices up just due to the endangered status likened to the scarlet macaw, as the scarlet macaw went for a wild import $500 dollars in the 80's to $1500 basically over night, for wild caught imports due to status upgrade, as this species is one of the most bred species of macaws in the USA , the scarlet is bred and are in market in much larger numbers than the blue and gold but due to status and coming government intervention by permit only sales, the species sells for more money for no other reason as numbers are at an all time high and many breeders freely breed them and sell them(for now), one breeder told me if it were not for the prices being high he simply would not try to breed them as they just do not make good pets, but due to ever increasing prices he will continue and according to him, the market is flooded with scarlets but prices remain high.

This can be seen on many other endangered species being sold in the USA market. The queen of bavarian conure or golden conure is one species that we see higher prices based on more of the regulated status of the bird, as this species cannot be owned, traded, purchased or shipped into or out of a US state without permits from US Fish and Wildlife Services and all movement of the birds being shipped or sold must be recorded. However the numbers on this endangered species were once slim, but now it is being reproduced in the USA at a rate better in numbers than the species could have had in their natural habitat in brazil, Given these great numbers being reproduced they have become very common in aviculture but still demand a very pricey buck. It has been reported that so many are being bred and reproduced that the breeders have avery hard time finding them homes, one breeder mentioned that he sees the paper work and permits required to own them making them unpoplur for regular pet owners and that keeps the prices high as only the highly interested and higher caliber collector customer is willing to go for that. And we see the opposite effect with the sometimes very endangered and not so common species like the red fronted macaw, Though they seem to be very few being bred and even fewer being kept as pets, almost never seen in pet homes, this species just does not bring a premium price despite the endangered status. There just seems less interest in the species from breeders and the numbers will decline in captivity even more.(shame)

One must be wary as scammers are everywhere as well low quality breeders and sellers selling less than quality and ill health birds. Be vigilant as a higher price does not always mean better, but low prices are the first RED flag of less than quality.or maybe its too good to be true.Why would a auto dealer sell a corvette for few thousands when the real prices are in the 50 and 70 thousands of dollars range USD and the demand is always more than the supply.

We here at Royal Bird Company Avicultural Breeding Research Center,we have what we think is a very productive and thorough breeding research program on the grey including red tail and timneh and several mutation program, We have researched,and bred the species for over 30 years and have published at least 20 articles on the breeding and husbandry of the species, One of the most shared article is "Why Call It Congo" this published article can be read on our website. We are most known for having the worlds largest program on the now declining species Yellow Naped Amazon and several uncommon subspecies, and including the very rare blue mutation. But we have several programs continuous going here at the center, including red variate mutation african greys, the yellow naped amazons and mutations, extreme colored magna double yellow heads and breeding and research of mealy amazons. We have collected massive amounts of data on the yellow naped breeding and research program over 30 years, We have now, more than 55,000 pages of data, older data is on hand written and hard copy and later since 2000 on digital. We continue with our work for many years to come in hopes that some of it may help the birds and their owners near and far. Thank you.




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