World Parrot Trust
Hayley Potter, Head of Section for Animal Encounters is the EAZA Species Monitor for the African Grey Parrot and sits on the EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria) Parrot Taxon Advisory Group.
Although we don't hold the African Grey Parrot species at Woburn Safari Park, Hayley is actively involved in their captive management at other wildlife collections throughout Europe.
Wild population numbers and range
Classed as 'Vulnerable in the wild', the world population is now as low as 560,000 and distinct threats to these numbers include the trade in wild-caught birds as pets and the loss of habitat or habitat fragmentation.
The Grey Parrot is found in southern Nigeria, southern Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, southeastern Ivory Coast, northern Angola, Tanzania, west Kenya, west Uganda, Principe and Bioko Islands.
Threats and decreases in population
The species was formerly widespread over much of Africa, however Grey and Timneh parrots are now threatened throughout much of their natural ranges due to extensive deforestation, particularly in western Africa.
Both species (Psittacus erithacus and Psittacus timneh) have been elevated on the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List to 'Vulnerable in the Wild' status, on the basis of rapid population declines over three generations (47 years). Recent estimates range from as low as 560,000 to a high of 12.7 million (Pilgrim et al. in prep).
Population declines have been noted in Burundi, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Togo, Uganda and parts of Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In all of these decreases, trapping for the wild bird trade is implicated as the main cause, with habitat loss also having a significant impact.
Over 657,000 wild-caught individuals of mostly P. erithacus entered international trade from 1982-2001 (UNEP-WCMC 2003). Taking into account estimates of 40-60% for pre-export mortality, the number of birds taken from the wild during this period may have numbered over 1 million (Source: A. Michels in litt. 2012).
Grey Parrots are found in primary and secondary rainforest, forest edges and clearings, gallery forest and mangroves; also wooded savanna, cultivated land and some gardens, up to an altitude of 2200m (7216 ft).
They eat a variety of seeds, nuts, fruits and berries and some cultivated maize, usually feeding at tops of trees. They are gregarious, forming large communal flocks of over 1000 individuals, roosting in palms over water or on islands in rivers.
Alongside Hayley's work as EAZA species monitor for the grey parrot, Woburn Safari Park raises money for the World Parrot Trust in the daily 'Birds in Action' talk and demonstration.
The WPT has supported ongoing studies on grey parrot behaviour and the effects of trade. To date, the Trust has assisted with the confiscation and rescue of nearly 5,100 Grey Parrots.
Woburn Safari Park raised over £1,400 for WPT in 2015 and continues to support future projects, including the charity's aims to:
- Reduce the trade in wild caught African parrots
- Rehabilitate and release confiscated birds
- Encourage sustainable alternatives to parrot trapping
- Re-establish wild populations in suitable areas of their former range
- Raise awareness for the plight of wild Grey Parrots
WPT will continue to work with partners to aid Grey Parrots in the following countries: Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Congo-Brazzaville, Nigeria and South Africa.
Click here for more details: www.parrots.org