Sick as a parrot

Illegal poaching threatens some parrot species with extinction

source: Scott Norris
New Scientist June 9 2001 p7

Around a third of parrot species from neotropical regions are in danger of extinction, and poaching could be as serious as habitat loss in causing bird populations to decline. Biologists from the Universities of Maryland and California have analysed data from 23 parrot nesting studies carried out over two decades. Poachers destroyed 30% of nests overall, rising to over 70% for four species, such as the Yellow-crowned Amazon. Larger and more valuable parrot species are more at risk from poachers.

A report is also due to come out in 2002 on legal international trade in parrots, which Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species regulates. There were 1.2 million parrots legally exported between 1991 and 1996, mostly coming from South and Central America. The US Wild Bird Conservation Act prohibits imports of birds which are listed by CITES, but Asia and Europe do no have such laws, and have grown to be the largest markets for these birds. The legal trade may foster illegal imports.

World Parrot Trust director, Mike Reynolds, from the UK, sees the new research as useful in a campaign to tighten European restrictions on endangered parrot imports. American Federation of Aviculture president, Benny Gallaway, however, sees sustainable harvests as preferable, and he argues that the threat from poaching has been exaggerated. This research has been reported in Conservation Biology, vol 15, p1.