Archived 2011-2012 topics: Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus) has been split into Grey Parrot (P. erithacus) and Timneh Grey Parrot (P. timneh): are both eligible for uplisting?

This discussion was first published on Dec 6 2010 as part of the 2011 Red List update.

Initial deadline for comments: 31 January 2012.

Link to BirdLife species factsheet for Grey Parrot (prior to taxonomic change)

Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus has been split into Grey Parrot P. erithacus and Timneh Grey Parrot P. timneh on the basis of genetic, morphological, plumage and vocal differences, following the findings presented by Melo and O’Ryan (2007) and additional work by the BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group (unpubl. data).

Prior to this taxonomic change, P. erithacus was listed as Near Threatened because its population was estimated to be declining at a rate of 20-29% over 10 years following observed declines in Burundi, Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Togo, Uganda and parts of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In all of these declines, trapping for the wild bird trade has been implicated, with habitat loss also having significant impacts throughout West and East Africa. Forest loss during 1990-2000 was estimated to be particularly high in Côte d’Ivoire (31%), Sierra Leone (29%), Nigeria (26%) and Liberia (20%).

P. erithacus (as defined following the taxonomic change), has recently been characterised as probably still numerous in Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo; however, it may be largely gone from other parts of its range (J. Gilardi pers. comm.). P. timneh may have now disappeared from much of its former range (J. Gilardi pers. comm.). The population trends for these species should be corrected for a period of 47 years (estimate of three generations), thus if the present rate of 20-29% over 10 years is re-estimated for this longer time period these species are likely to qualify for a higher threat category. However, the existing estimate for the population trend over 10 years may also be out of date. A decline of at least 30% over the past 47 years would make these species eligible for Vulnerable, with a decline of at least 50% over the past 47 years making them eligible for Endangered. The projected rate of decline over the next 47 years should also be estimated.

Up-to-date information is requested for these species, in particular the estimated rates of decline over a period of 47 years and the severity of threats.

Melo, M. and O’Ryan, C. (2007) Genetic differentiation between Príncipe Island and mainland populations of the grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus), and implications for conservation. Molecular Ecology 16: 1673-1685.

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16 Responses to Archived 2011-2012 topics: Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus) has been split into Grey Parrot (P. erithacus) and Timneh Grey Parrot (P. timneh): are both eligible for uplisting?

  1. Hugo Rainey says:

    P. timneh
    Allport (1991) estimated that c. 77% of the Upper Guinea EBA forest cover had been lost at the time of that study. Regional forest loss has continued since that date at a high rate (as stated above). The range of P. timneh from the Comoe River eastwards in Cote d’Ivoire encompasses areas which are typical of forests in the Upper Guinea region as a whole (including areas known to have lost much forest such as Cavally Foret Classee). Therefore it is probable that the available habitat for P. timneh has declined by >50% (or >70% if forest loss was reversible) over three generations and therefore this species should be listed as at least Endangered. If total loss of the original forest cover over 47 years exceeds 80% then this species could be listed as Critically Endangered. Prediction of forest loss rates over the next three generations is almost impossible given the length of time (47 years) and potential changes to drivers of deforestation (e.g the potential impact of future REDD project development in controlling deforestation could be considered). A conservative review of the status of this species would best focus on estimating forest loss over the past three generations.
    NB1: This species is not known to have penetrated far into the semi-deciduous forests such as Marahoue NP in Cote d’Ivoire (although it was found at Lamto and Mont Peko NP), thus the loss of forest in this zone may not be pertinent to this review.
    NB2: Forest loss rates need to be presented more accurately to be effectively interpreted; are rates % loss of original forest area or % loss of forest as a proportion of regional/country area.

    P. erithacus
    The populations in Upper Guinea, Nigeria and Cameroon may have suffered reductions similar to those suffered by P. timneh. The populations in the Congo basin, including Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of Congo, DR Congo, Central African Republic may have suffered some declines as stated previously in the BirdLife Grey Parrot factsheet, due to harvesting and forest loss. However, it is unlikely we have sufficient data on the population in any Congo basin country to say precisely that the decline of this species has exceeded 30%. Estimations of forest loss are likely to be the best proxy of P. erithacus population decline and should be used for this purpose.

    An estimate of forest loss of 1.5% in the Congo Basin from 1990-2000 is given by:

    Forest loss from 2000-2010 is probably higher than this, but is unlikely to have come close to the threshold necessary for uplisting P. erithacus to Vulnerable (>30%). Forest loss prior to 1990 is not likely to have been much higher than the 1990-2000 rate. This suggests that P. erithacus can be listed as Near-Threatened.

    The quoted comment on the disappearance of this species from much of its range from J. Gilardi needs to be presented with more information to be useful.

  2. Terese Hart says:

    Although we do not have enough information to estimate a rate of decline for P. erithacus, it is likely much higher than would be caused by forest loss alone. In the area where we work (central D.R. Congo) all the mineral licks and parrot concentrations we know of (three) have or recently have had commercial parrot capture. This is relatively new and those doing the captures are not locals but come from further east (Equateur Province) where there has been parrot capture for a longer period of time. (this was reported more than a decade ago by Roger Fotso of WCS). Our assumption is that collectors have depleted their resource in the west of the country.

  3. Cher says:

    I am wondering, inlight of these findings, which may have been known by some agencies for some time, if there anything is being done to increase the population of TAGs as I know them, in order to prevent them from becoming extinct over time.
    Such wonderful birds, and as companions, just the most delightful birds in my opinion. It is very disturbing to learn of their decline and I wonder if efforts to increase their population would be of any good for the species in light of the deforestation etc.? Opinions? Thank-you.

  4. Steve Boyes says:

    Over 730 wild-caught African Grey Parrots (Psittacus erithacus) died on a commercial flight between Johannesburg and Durban. According to the UNEP-WCMC Trade database, the annual CITES export quotas for African Grey Parrots from the Democratic Republic of Congo are exceeded every year with up to 10,000 wild-caught African Greys coming into South Africa. Most of these parrots are sold into large breeding facilities, where they are used as breeding stock to produce eggs for incubation and hand-raising for the pet bird market. Other shipments are re-exported to emerging markets in the Far East after quarantine.

    The appalling conditions in which these wild parrots are transported from remote forests in small crates and then held in poor quarantine conditions result in the demise of a high proportion of them. Please don’t, however, mistake this for an ethical or animal welfare issue. Trade in wild-caught Timneh Grey Parrots (P. timneh) and African Grey Parrots (P. erithacus) will continue to threaten the persistence of local populations targeted by trappers and eventually result in local extinctions that cannot be reversed.

  5. I support the taxonomic subdivision of the species, as well as upgrading of their status.

  6. We have a small project on Grey Parrots in Kampala, wher we believe the species to have increased in the last 10-20 years. We are not sure whether the birds which are quite commonly seen in various parts of the city are genuinely wild, or escapes/releases from captivity (and we have no idea t present how to tell the difference). But at least they are not doing badly here.

  7. Philip Hall says:

    Grey Parrots are still found in all forested areas throughout the south of NIgeria although undoubtedly numbers have declined because of the demand for the pet trade. The Niger Delta was a particular stronghold for the species but it has not been possible to survey this area because of recent disturbances. There is an urgent need for an overall survey to get an accurate assessment of their current status.

  8. Ben Phalan says:

    In Dändliker’s excellent 1992 report, he reports at least three roosts in Ghana with up to or exceeding 1000 Grey Parrots. These were all in palms (Raphia swamps or oil palm plantations). I visited two of these sites in 2007 (#3, #23 in Dändliker’s report; albeit I did not have this information at the time and was not looking specifically for parrots) and the largest number of Grey Parrots I saw was a flock of 41 birds on 13 August at Benso Oil Palm Plantation. It should be a priority to resurvey the 60 roost sites located by Dändliker (or at least the twenty of those for which he has counts), to get a better idea of how numbers have changed.

    Because this species concentrates in traditional roost sites, it is highly vulnerable to trapping pressure, and because of this it seems likely to be much more threatened than information on habitat loss alone would suggest.

    Dändliker also estimated densities of Grey Parrots at 0.3 – 3 parrots per square kilometre (with higher densities in evergreen forest than in semi-deciduous forest). I did 600 10-min point counts in four forests in southwest Ghana in 2007 (Cape Three Points, Bonsa River, Subri River and Nsuensa/Aiyaola) and did not record Grey Parrots on any of them. Again, I was not targetting parrots specifically, and given the low densities this is not an efficient way of surveying this species (I estimate that my methods would not be useful for estimating densities of species where these fell below 2 birds per square km), but it is at least confirmation that densities remain low in Ghana.

    Dändliker, G. 1992. “The Grey Parrot in Ghana: a population survey, a contribution to the biology of the species, a study of its commercial exploitation and management recommendations” CITES/EEC/EFTA/UNEP.

  9. Ben Phalan says:

    Timneh Grey Parrot appears to have disappeared completely from the forests on and near Mt Nimba in Nimba County, Liberia. Recent surveys in Jun-Jul 2008 and Jan 2009 by Ron Demey, Apr-May 2010 by Ben Phalan and Oct-Nov 2011 by Francoise Dowsett-Lemaire and Ben Phalan in the East Nimba Nature reserve and nearby forest areas (including the new Gba Community Forest in 2011) found no Timneh Grey Parrots at all, and no indication from locals that they have been present in recent times.

    Colston & Curry-Lindahl (1986) mention only two sight records from Nimba, in 1971 and 1976 and find this scarcity surprising (in particular, Alec Forbes-Watson saw none in his extensive surveys of 1967-68). Gatter (1997) gives no other records for Mt Nimba, but mentions a roost of 83 birds in “southern Nimba county” in Dec 1996.

    Gatter also records that in “1981-84, according to estimates of forest guards and myself, about 1,400 birds annually were smuggled from Ivory Coast via Cavalla River near Zwedru at only 3 canoe crossings … Less than 1% of them are P. e. erithacus”. This is an indication that trade is not only a problem for erithacus, but for timneh also.

    Colston, P. R. & Curry-Lindahl, K. 1986. The Birds of Mount Nimba, Liberia. British Museum (Natural History).
    Gatter, W. 1997. Birds of Liberia. Yale University Press.

  10. P. timneh still persists in the Gola Forest area in Sierra Leone but never seems to have been particularly abundant. Surveys in the later 1980s reported it as rare and in small numbers with similar assessment from more recent surveys. Observations tend to be of pairs but some small groups seen, sometimes into double figures, but rarely so. Most observations are of fly over birds. Given the small range, low density and pressure from pet trade prospects are surely poor for this species.
    Are there data from the pet trade that split the two forms?

  11. Given the difficulty of gathering accurate data on forest loss in this part of the world and the fact that we’re really interested in knowing about loss over more than 40 years, answering this crucial question is not at all trivial. What we would really like to know of course is the extent of primary forests throughout the range of the greys in 1966 to compare with that same figure for today. The FAO report, Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010, mentioned in previous posts here is indeed likely to be the most current and comprehensive dataset available.

    If you look at the forest loss data included there from 2000-2010, country-by-country for the major historic range states for the Greys, the average loss over that decade is about 8.4%. Extrapolating to 46 years (three Grey generations) would therefore generate an estimated loss of forest cover of about 38% in their historic range.

    However, these numbers are to some extent self-reported, so it’s very likely that there is a fair amount of incorrect information contained here – intentionally or otherwise – particularly Congo’s estimate of only having lost 0.64% of their forest cover in the last ten years. (The original report is here: and if you’d like to see the calculations above, email me at and I’ll send you the attachment.)

    Additionally, this analysis looks at all forest cover, not just primary forests, so countries like Rwanda – which almost certainly lost nearly all of its primary forest cover in the last 46 years – reported an increase of more than 26% in forest cover in the last decade. The 8.4% average mentioned above includes the Rwanda estimate even though this is likely either meaningless to this discussion or indeed strongly misleading (especially since the species is effectively extinct in the entire country). Excluding Rwanda, the adjusted 10 year loss would be 10.2%, so the 46 year estimate 46.8 % loss.

    Worth mentioning perhaps is the fact that the ongoing threat from both legal and illegal trade across the ranges of both species is at best independent of the threat from forest loss. In practice however, deforestation and trapping are synergistic; either may wipe out a given population on its own, but together, they appear to be a sure thing.

  12. Ann Michels says:

    Following is information on trade in the species and efforts made by CITES to address this trade.


    CITES field projects have provided estimates of populations in Ghana (30,000-80,000) (Dändliker 1992b), Guinea (5,000-10,000) (Dändliker 1992a), Cameroon (300,000 to 500,00) (Fotso 1998b) and DRC (“several hundred thousand”) (Fotso 1998a). Based on the estimated density of the species in Ghana and Guinea, Dändliker (1992a) calculated population estimates for Liberia (50,000-100,000), Guinea-Bissau (100-1,000), Sierra Leone (11,000-18,000), the subspecies P.e. erithacus in Côte d’Ivoire (10,000-25,000) and the subspecies P.e. timneh in Côte d’Ivoire (54,000-130,000). These estimates have been used as the basis for setting export quotas in the past.

    Dandliker (1992a and 1992b) and Fotso (1998a and 1998b) obtained their estimates by counting birds at roosts. McGowen (2000) states that the methodologies used to obtain these estimates would not withstand rigorous interrogation as the proportion of the population within the area that uses the roost being counted will still not be known.

    McGowen (2001) assessed different methodologies for surveying P. erithacus populations and concluded that assessments of nest density and the proportion of young removed from the wild are more appropriate than population estimates to assess the impact of trade on this species. Populations without recruitment may appear to be stable, as parrots are long-lived species. Though Nigeria has no legal exports, McGowen’s (2001) study there found that recruitment into the adult population “is very low and in some areas virtually zero” because of nest poaching, “implying a population crash at some state in the future.”

    In both Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, already small populations of P.erithacus are seriously threatened by the combination of harvesting and habitat loss (Clemmons 2003). Evidence of population depletion has been observed in Cameroon (Fotso 1998b). Burundi’s population is considered endangered (CITES Notification No. 681). The species is extinct in Kenya (Stevenson 1991).

    Utilization andTrade
    P. erithacus ranks as one of the most commonly traded avian species listed in CITES. The trade history of the species has seen trade shift from one country to another, likely as a result of import bans (Valaoras 1998). There is information that birds are transported from one country to another to fill export quotas (Clemmons 2003; Fotso 1998b).

    It is reported that P. erithacus is illegally traded from Cameroon to Nigeria (McGowan 2001); from Guinea to Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Mali and Sierra Leone (Clemmons 2003); from DRC to Congo, Central African Republic, Uganda and Zambia (Fotso 1998a); from Cameroon and Congo to Benin, Guinea and Senegal (Fotso 1998b); from Côte d’Ivoire to Guinea (Clemmons 2003; Dändliker 1992a); from Guinea-Bissau to Portugal, Russian Federation, Japan, Senegal, France and Guinea (Clemmons 2003); and from Principe to Gabon, Angola and Portugal (Juste 1996). P. erithacus is subject to significant levels of illegal trade. An analysis illegal wildlife trade found P.erithacus to be the species most mentioned in reports of illegal incidents (Kievet 1998).

    Of particular concern is the effect of both the legal and illegal trade on the subspecies P.e.timneh, which has smaller numbers and a more limited distribution than the nominate species. There has been no effort to assess the impacts of trade in three of the five range States, nor to assess the effect of Guinea having exported numbers of birds in excess of its estimated population.

    Mortality of P. erithacus prior to export is estimated at 30-50% in Cameroon (Fotso 1998b), 40-50% in DRC (Fotso 1998a) and, 60-66% in Nigeria (McGowen 2001). From 1982 to 2001, over 657,000 wild-caught individuals of this species entered international trade (UNEP-WCMC 2003). Considering estimates for pre-export mortality, the number of birds extracted from the wild during this period may have numbered over 1 million.

    In addition to capture for international trade, there is an active internal trade in live birds for pets and exhibition (Clemmons 2003; McGowen 2001). The species is also hunted within its range as bushmeat (Fa and Gracia Yuste 2001) and to supply heads, legs and tail feathers for use as medicine or fetishes in black magic (Clemmons 2003; Fotso 1998b; McGowen 2001).


    P. erithacus is endemic to primary and secondary rainforest of West and Central Africa (Juniper and Parr 1998). Grey parrots depend on large, old trees for the large natural hollows used for nesting (Clemmons 2003). In Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, preferred species of nesting trees for P. erithacus are also preferred timber species (Clemmons 2003).

    There is a positive relationship between the status of the species and the status of primary forest (Dändlider 1992b): where the forests are declining, so too are populations of P. erithacus (Clemmons 2003). P. erithacus has experienced significant habitat loss in West Africa, where nearly 90% of the original moist forest is gone, and what remains is heavily fragmented and degraded (World Resources Institute 2003). Exporting countries of P. erithacus in West Africa are experiencing some of the highest rates of loss of natural forests in the world. From 1990-2000, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone experienced a loss of natural forests of 28%, 18% and 25%, respectively (World Resources Institute 2003). P. erithacus has experienced significant habitat loss in other countries of the region. Both Nigeria and Ghana have cleared over 75% of their forests (Byers 2001b). Scientists predict West Africa will lose 70% of its remaining forest by the year 2040 (Barnes 1990).

    Central Africa is home to one of the world’s largest contiguous blocks of tropical rainforest. However, commercial logging is rapidly opening access routes into these forests. An estimated 45 percent of forests are within commercial logging concessions, and only 7 percent are within protected areas (Minnemeyer 2002). Over 90 percent of all logging occurs in primary forest, one of the highest ratios of any region in the world (World Resources Institute 2003). Many range States are experiencing significant deforestation. Historic and planned logging development covers at least three-fourths of Cameroon’s forests (Bieké 2000). Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo currently have 71% and 79% of their forests in logging concessions (Minneymeyer 2002). Gabon has lost between 20 and 31% of its original forest cover and logging concessions now cover half of the remaining forest area (Collomb 2000). From 1990-2000, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi experienced a loss of natural forests of 18%, 78% and 89%, respectively (World Resources Institute 2003). Deforestation rates in Central Africa are predicted to increase (Forest Outlook Study for Africa 2003). Given current conditions, deforestation over the next 50 years is expected to reduce Central Africa’s forest area by 41% across the region (Byers 2001a).

    International Management Efforts

    P. erithacus was considered in Phase 1 of the CITES Review of Significant Trade (Resolution Conf. 8.9/12.8) in the early 1990s. Resolution Conf. 12.8 on the Review of Significant Trade in specimens of Appendix II species (based on Res Conf. 8.9 (rev.)) allows for action to be taken by the CITES Animals Committee when there is reason to believe that Appendix II species are being traded at significant levels without adequate implementation of Article IV (which requires that trade will not be detrimental to the survival of the species).

    During that time, the trade from eight range States was assessed, quotas were recommended and restrictions were placed on some exporting nations. This helped to stem illegal exports of the species from nearby non-range States (Senegal and Togo) that, during the 1980s and early 1990s, totaled over 73,000 birds (WCMC 2012).

    Despite these activities, efforts to address this species under the Review have been insufficient to insure sustainable use. In 1993, Liberia satisfied the recommendations of the Review by stating that they had prepared a proposal for population surveys (Doc. SC30.6.1), yet the surveys were never undertaken. Liberia increased its annual export quota from 2500 to 3000 in 2001. Côte d’Ivoire continued to export specimens, though the Standing Committee recommended in 1993 that Parties not accept documentation from Côte d’Ivoire for P. erithacus (CITES Notification 746).

    In Guinea, a 1991 field survey (Dändliker 1992a), undertaken as part of the Review, estimated Guinea’s population of P.e.timneh to number 5,000-10,000 individuals, and recommended an export quota of 450. In 1992, Guinea exported a number of birds greater (10,894 specimens / UNEP-WCMC 2003) than the maximum estimated national population. Despite this clear evidence of over-utilization and possibly illegal trade, the CITES Secretariat accepted the establishment of an annual export quota of 450 specimens per year in 1994 (CITES Notification 800). In 2001, Guinea increased its export quota by 66% to 750 specimens per year.

    Gabon, DRC and Congo initiated commercial exports of the species after the Review. Trade from these Parties was not addressed in the first phase of the Review.

    Psittacus erithacus was reinserted in the Review of Significant Trade in 2004 with recommendations transmitted to range States in 2006, to be effective in 2007. Recommendations included moratoria on exports from Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone; and, that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Congo establish export quotas of 5,000 and 4,000, respectively.

    In addition, through the Review, CITES adopted a number of Decisions (14.82 – 14.85) requiring the development of regional management plans for both subspecies yet, to date, no work has been undertaken to implement the directives. In fact, at the 15th Conference of the CITES Parties, the CITES Secretariat recommended that these Decisions be deleted. The Parties rejected this recommendation.

    Exports of P. erithacus from the Democratic Republic of Congo (8,578 in 2008; 12,158 in 2009; 7,502 in 2010) greatly exceed the export quota of 5,000. Cameroon, despite a CITES-imposed zero export quota, exported 4,715 specimens in 2007; 708 in 2008; 10 in 2009; and 302 in 2010. Guinea, also with a CITES-imposed zero export quota, exported 230 specimens 2007; 1,670 in 2008; 2,050 in 2009; and 1,640 in 2010. CITES has failed to take action to address this trade.

    Seizures in recent years include:
    • December 2009: 730 specimens found dead on a private plane between Johannesburg and Durban; the birds were believed to have been sourced from DRC.
    • February 2010: More than 1,000 specimens seized at Doula Airport in Cameroon
    • September 2010: More than 500 specimens were confiscated in the DRC and placed in a rehabilitation center in preparation for release in the wild; these same birds were confiscated again in September 2010 and returned to the original dealer.
    • December 2010: 700 specimens seized on a highway in Cameroon.
    • January 2011: Two shipments seized entering Uganda from DRC: 150 specimens and 276 specimens
    • April 2011: 161 specimens from DRC in transit via Mozambique were seized in South Africa and then handed over to a bird breeder in Mozambique

    Equally concerning is South Africa’s significant increase in export of P. erithacus (the large majority exported as captive-bred). In 2006, exports totaled 4,827; the year that trade suspensions and restrictions were to be put in place (2007), exports nearly doubled to 9,100; and, then again, to more than 20,000 in 2008.

    At its 25th meeting in 2011, the CITES Animals Committee included additional range States of the species in the Review but, unfortunately, without addressing all sources of trade (both “legal” and illegal), it appears that, without greater commitment from the range States and CITES, there is little that will staunch the flow of these parrots out of Africa.

    Barnes, R. F. W. 1990. Deforestation in tropical Africa. Journal of African Ecology 28:161-173.

    Bikié, H. et. al. 2000. An Overview of Logging in Cameroon. World Resources Institute, Washington, DC.

    Byers, B., Hakizumwami, E., Hart, T., Imboden, C., Ritchie, C., Swartzendruber, F. and Musters, C. 2001a. Congo Basin Information Series (Ref. No. 127) #7: Seeing the future now: Simulating forest changes in the Congo Basin. Biodiversity Support Program, Washington, DC.

    Byers, B., Hakizumwami, E., Hart, T., Imboden, C., Ritchie, C., Swartzendruber, F. and Musters, C. 2001b. Congo Basin Information Series (Ref. No. 127) #8: If the forest disappeared what would we lose and what might we gain? Biodiversity Support Program, Washington, DC.

    Clemmons, J.R. 2003. Status Survey of the African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus timneh) and Development of a Management Program in Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. CITES, Geneva, Switzerland.

    Collomb, J.G. et. al. 2000. A First Look at Logging in Gabon. World Resources Institute, Washington, DC.

    Dändliker, G. 1992a. Le Perroquet Gris (Psittacus erithacus) en Guinée: Evalution des populations,contribution ´s la biologie étude de l’exploitation comérciale et recommandations pour la gestion. CITES, Geneva, Switzerland.

    Dändliker, G. 1992b. The Grey Parrot in Ghana: A population survey, a contribution to the biology of the species, a study of its commercial exploitation and management recommendations. CITES, Lausanne, Switzerland.

    Fa, J.E. and Gracia Yuste, J.E. 2001. Commercial bushmeat hunting in the Monte Mitra forests, Equatorial Guinea: extent and impact. Animal Biodiversity and Conservation, 24.1: 31-52.

    Forest Outlook Study for Africa. 2003. African Forests: A View to 2020. Rome, Italy.

    Fotso, R. 1998a. Etude sur l’état, la répartition géographique et l’utilisation du perroquet gris (Psittacus erithacus) dans al République démocratique du Congo. CITES, Geneva, Swizerland.

    Fotso, R. 1998b. Survey Status of the Distribution and Utilization of the Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus) in Cameroon. CITES, Geneva, Swizterland.

    Global Forest Watch. Retrieved 4 August 2003 from,

    Kievit, P. P. 1998. The World-Wide Illegal Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, April 1994-August 1996. Environmental Crime Unit, National Police Agency, Netherlands.

    Juniper, T. and M. Parr. 1998. Parrots: A Guide to Parrots of the World. Yale University Press, New Haven and London.

    Juste B., J. 1996. Trade in the gray parrot Psittacus erithacus on the island of Príncipe (São Tomé and Príncipe, Central Africa): initial assessement of the activity and its impact. Biological Conservation 76: 101-104.

    McGowan, P. 2001. Status, Management and Conservation of the African Grey Parrot, Psittacus erithacus in Nigeria. CITES, Geneva, Switzerland.

    Minnemeyer, S. 2002. An Analysis of Access into Central Africa’s Rainforests. World Resource Institute, Washington, DC.

    Stevenson, T. 1991. Kakamega Forest Tourism Consultancy. Kenya Indigenous Forest Conservation Project, Nairobi, Kenya.

    UNEP-WCMC CITES Trade Database.

    Valaoras, G. 1998. Monitoring of Wildlife Trade in the European Union: Assessing the Effectiveness of EU CITES Import Policies. TRAFFIC Europe, Brussels, Belgium.

    World Resources Institute.

  13. Joe Taylor says:

    The following information and comments were sent by Françoise Dowsett-Lemaire on 27 January 2012:

    4. Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus

    African Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus
    Distribution Guineo-Congolian near-endemic (Guinea or Ivory Coast (depending on taxonomy) to W. Kenya). Still widespread in the forests of the south-west, but decreasing, and no longer recorded from several areas on the margin of range (hollow squares, also used for Accra, where the population is feral). Today from Cape Three Points (p.o. & B. Phalan) north to Ayum/Subim (J. Oppong Mar 2003), Tano Ofin (hunters), Amama Shelterbelt (single Sep 2010) and Bobiri (p.o. et al.), east probably to Worobong South F.R. (now rare visitor, hunters). Only a very rare visitor today to Owabi W.R. (last seen Apr 2008: Dowsett-Lemaire & Dowsett 2009b). Has become extinct in Bia N.P. since probably the late 1990s (Dowsett-Lemaire & Dowsett 2011x), has disappeared from Ofinso district forest reserves (one seen Aug 2004, but no recent records from Opro River or Afram Headwaters, largely planted with teaks), from Ejura and Mampong (noted by Lowe 1937, an area now largely deforested), and certainly also from Mpraeso scarp and Takoradi area; reported as a rare visitor (how recent not known) to Sekondi waterworks F.R. to feed on exotic Cassia seeds (forest guard). In the 1980s Dändliker (1992) thought the northern limit of range was a Raphia swamp at 7°55’N, 1°38’W, but we did not see this habitat and there are no forest reserves anywhere near (§check source in his report). None seen in Atewa Range in recent decade, but one pair noted passing over adjacent farmbush in Feb 2010 (E. Krabbe). An old record by J.M. Winterbottom from somewhere between Atebubu and Kete Kratchi (in Bannerman 1931) is odd as would have been in essentially savanna country and is shown with a “?”.
    Numbers seen in recent years very small: thus in surveys of 3-5 days in Dec 2008-Jan 2009 only one pair flying over Opon Mansi F.R. and none Bonsa Ben, single over Subri River F.R., one pair over Fure Headwaters F.R., one pair over Boin River F.R., single over Sui River F.R., single over Bibiani forests (Anwiaso), none in Tano Ofin (where still reported by hunters); in short surveys in 2009-10 only three over Ben West F.R. (Dec), none in Oda River F.R., nor in Mirasa Hills, Pra Anum or Bosumtwi Range F.Rs, none in Draw River F.R., one over Amama Shelterbelt F.R. (Sep). Small numbers regularly seen in Kakum N.P. (especially in the south) and Ankasa W.R., and also, surprisingly, the small Bobiri F.R. (common Jan 2009, some May 2010). A group of 38 flying over oil palm plantation at Benso on 13 Aug 2007 (B. Phalan) seems exceptional.
    Ecology and habits The great majority of records today are of singles, pairs or trios flying over to or from distant roosts. Feeding habits were documented by Dändlicker (1992): Elaeis palm nuts are an important part of the diet (mainly from large wild trees, with negligible damage to plantations), also taken are young fruits of Raphia (R. hookeri), seeds of Blighia sapida, Bombax buonopoenze, Ceiba pentandra, Celtis mildbraedii, Parkia bicolor, Petersianthus macrocarpus, Senna (Cassia) siamea (from exotic plantations) and Terminalia superba; also seeds or fruits of Anthocleista sp. and Morus mesozygia. Bannerman (1931) is wrong in accusing Grey Parrots of raiding maize crops (based on Ussher 1974), this is the work of Senegal Parrot. Fly long distances in evenings to reach roosts, most being in Raphia swamps, also Elaeis plantations or large trees such as Ceiba, but many roosts abandoned due to trapping (Dändlicker 1992).
    Status Overall resident, but said to have movements into the drier semi-evergreen forests in the rainy season (Dändlicker 1992); however, it has been recorded in Jan at Bobiri, one of the driest forests of its current range.
    Conservation Considered “Near Threatened” by BirdLife International (2008), but seriously endangered in Ghana by both deforestation and relentless hunting for the pet trade. In theory protected in Kakum and Ankasa N.Ps, but wildlife guards cannot keep on top of poaching in Kakum (J. Nyame in 2010). Large numbers were already sold at Cape Coast and Accra in the 1870s (Ussher 1874); by the 1930s Lowe (1937) considered it rather rare around Mampong, and had to travel to Lake Bosumtwi to obtain one pair, although M. Horwood (in Grimes 1987) still occasionally recorded flocks of 500-1000 near Bekwai in the 1940s. The largest number recorded recently (38 at Benso, in 2007) is in an area where Dändliker (1992) recorded a roost of 800-1200 birds in 1988: the drop in numbers is considerable. Birds are trapped in nests as well as at roosts, forcing the abandonment of roosting trees (Dändliker 1992). In addition to this, deforestation continues in several forest reserves at the margin of the range.
    Breeding Most egg-laying takes place in Nov or earlier, as nestlings present Nov-Dec (Dändlicker 1992); a pair at nest hole in a dead tree on the edge of Cape Three Points F.R., Dec 2004 (p.o.). Grimes (1987) mentions young fledglings for sale from Mar onwards.
    Taxonomy P. erithacus.
    References Bannerman (1931); BirdLife International (2008); Dändlicker (1992); Dowsett-Lemaire & Dowsett (2009b); Dowsett-Lemaire & Dowsett (2011x Bia); Grimes (1987); Ussher (1874).

    (TOGO-BENIN: does not occur naturally, as discussed by Dändliker and also in a recent paper by us on Benin, in Bull. Afr. Bird Club 18: 148-167).

    In the early 2000s, Cameroon was still exporting a quota of 10,000 birds. A large proportion of these seemed to come from Lobéké N.P. in the south-east of the country. Mismanagement by WWF-Cameroon meant that this was never stopped (we are well placed to know this, as we worked for WWF-Cameroon until 2001, including in Lobéké from 1997-99). I do not know what is happening now. After we left Jean-F. and Isabelle Lagrot made a film (which they never managed to sell) on the trapping of parrots in the park, and estimated that about 90% of trapped birds died before they reached Douala airport. This means that in the late 1990s and early 2000s, some 100,000 birds were captured each year. The salt-pans at Lobéké probably drain Parrots from a wide area, also from RCA and Congo-Brazzaville. The Lagrots published a short paper in a WWF-France magazine, I imagine you are in touch with them.

    In the west of Cameroon, very few Grey Parrots left (e.g. a few in the Bakossi Mts, but more in the Yabassi Hills (see report 2001).

    See our publications on Odzala N.P. (1997, Tauraco Res. Rep.). Its situation in the north (with Nouabalé-Ndoki and Odzala N.Ps) is more favourable than in Cameroon.

    Conclusion: the situation in West Africa is catastrophic, as is obvious from the species account in Ghana. Should be upgraded to Vulnerable if not Endangered. Traffic must be stopped generally. There will still be local poaching, as happened in Lobéké in 1997-98 (when there was a temporary suspension); feathers are used for sorcery. We found piles of feathers at the edge of the salt-pan in Lobéké, from many birds killed.

  14. Joe Taylor says:

    The following information and comments were sent by Françoise Dowsett-Lemaire on 27January 2012:

    Psittacus timneh

    In Jan-Feb 2007 we found it fairly common in Gola Forest (now a national park): “Widespread but in very small numbers: recorded 14 days out of 15 in Gola East (usually pairs flying at dusk, except for a group of 11 at Sileti (30 Jan). Less often near Belebu (twice in 4-5 days); daily in Gola North east of Lalehun, but often no more than a single pair. One pair in Konella clearing. Overall on 27 out of 32 field days.

    No records from Nimba Range in recent years, but already no more than accidental in the past. This is what I wrote in our report (FD-L & B. Phalan, 2012), based on a visit in Oct-Nov 2011:
    Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus timneh. Res. Extinct in the Nimba area. Colston & Curry-Lindahl (1986) mention only two sight records, in 1971 and 1976 and find this scarcity surprising. In particular AD. Forbes-Watson saw none in his extensive surveys of 1967-68. Gatter (1997) gives no other records, except a roost of 83 birds in “southern Nimba county” in Dec 1996. Villagers questioned at Bentor and elsewhere did not know of any parrots.

    However, we found it at Greenhill Quarry in the middle of Liberia, in an area of very degraded forest and farmbush, visited 18-19 Nov 2011. (for coordinates, you will have to ask Ben Phalan). We saw up to 6 flying over the quarry at dusk (18 Nov).

  15. Joe Taylor says:

    The following comments by John Hart were forwarded to us on 1 February 2012:

    There has clearly been an upsurge in illegal capture of greys over last several years to present

    here are some links with details from Radio Okapi, an internationally supported radio and web communication for DRC.

    THis is of course the tip of the iceberg, and because these report illegal captures this reflects the dangerous trend we are seeing.

    Interestingly these are all captures from forest sites. Urban free ranging greys do not seem to be targetted, leading to the impression of many people that all is well with the species


    John A. Hart, Ph.D.

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