Archived 2019 topic: Senegal Parrot (Poicephalus senegalus): request for information.

BirdLife species factsheet for Senegal Parrot:

Senegal Parrot (Poicephalus senegalus) is found in the savanna woodland belt of West Africa from Senegal across to northern Cameroon, southern Chad and Central African Republic. While it may occur in a variety of savanna habitats, it supposedly may favour more open habitats (Collar and Kirwan 2018). That said, in Ghana it is widespread and locally common in woodland, particularly in reserves (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2014), it is rare in deforested areas (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2014), and it requires trees for nesting (see Collar and Kirwan 2018). As such, deforestation could be having an impact on the species (per Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2014), but the major threat to the species comes from the cagebird trade. Between 1975 and 2014, 889,242 individuals of this species were known to have been exported from Africa (Martin 2018), a number approaching that seen in the globally Endangered Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithracus) (see BirdLife International 2018, Martin 2018). Indeed between 1995 and 2004 a greater number of Senegal Parrots were exported from Africa than Grey Parrots (Martin 2018). Currently listed as Least Concern (BirdLife International 2018), there has been no quantification of the population size of this species. Nevertheless, the export figures are very high, and so the species may warrant a change in Red List status. Therefore, it has been reassessed here against all criteria.

Criterion A – Currently there is a lack of any field data on this species (see Martin 2018), with no direct quantification of trends or overall population size. As such, estimating the population change over three generations for this species (30 years) is very difficult. In some areas of Ghana at least, it is becoming difficult to see and numbers may be very small locally (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2014). Additionally, its apparent greater abundance in protected areas compared to the surrounding habitat could suggest it is becoming more restricted to such areas (see Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2014).

Trade figures do show that large numbers of individuals are being removed from the wild. Between 1985 and 2014 a total of 825,775 wild individuals were exported from Africa, but this won’t show the full extent of trade in the species, as illegal and domestic trade will not have been fully incorporated (Martin 2018). These numbers are vast, but it is still uncertain to what extent such trade has been driving overall population trends. With no quantification of the overall population size it is uncertain what proportion has been removed from the wild to sustain this trade, and it could be that the population size is so large that actually the removal of these individuals has had a minimal impact on overall population dynamics. Additionally, it is not certain what proportion of the individuals being traded are breeding adults vs. immature birds taken from nests. This could potentially be important, as Criterion A looks at reductions in population size (i.e. mature individuals).

Despite these deficiencies, the levels of trade in this species are worrying. Therefore, further information is urgently sought to accurately assess the species against this criterion.

Criterion B – With an Extent of Occurrence of 3,590,000km2, this species’s range is far too large to warrant listing under this criterion.

Criterion C – The population size has not been quantified, but it is described as ‘often abundant’ (del Hoyo et al. 1997). It may be that the species is locally rare (per Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2014), but it is still highly unlikely to approach the threshold for Vulnerable under this criterion (10,000 mature individuals).

Criterion D – The species’s population size and range are far too large to warrant listing under this criterion.

Criterion E – To the best of our knowledge there has been no quantitative analysis of extinction risk conducted for this species. Therefore, it cannot be assessed against this criterion.

Therefore, we request any further information and comment regarding wild population trends to allow us to more effectively assess the species against Criterion A. Please note that this topic is not designed to be a general discussion about the ecology of the species, rather a discussion of the species’ Red List status. Therefore, please make sure your comments are relevant to the information that is sought, or about the species’ Red List status.

An information booklet on the Red List Categories and Criteria can be downloaded here and the Red List Criteria Summary Sheet can be downloaded here. Detailed guidance on IUCN Red List terms and definitions and the application of the Red List Categories and Criteria can be downloaded here.


BirdLife International. 2018. Species factsheet: Poicephalus senegalus. Downloaded from on 14/09/2018.

BirdLife International. 2018. Species factsheet: Psittacus erithacus. Downloaded from on 14/09/2018.

Collar, N.; Kirwan, G. M. 2018. Senegal Parrot (Poicephalus senegalus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 14 September 2018).

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1997. Handbook of the birds of the world, Vol 4: Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions.

Dowsett-Lemaire, F.; Dowsett, R. J. 2014. The Birds of Ghana: an atlas and handbook. Tauraco Press, Liège, Belgium.

Martin, R. O. 2018. The wild bird trade and African parrots: past, present and future challenges. Ostrich 89(2): 139-143.

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4 Responses to Archived 2019 topic: Senegal Parrot (Poicephalus senegalus): request for information.

  1. Rob Martin (BirdLife International) says:

    Joost Brouwer has kindly provided the following quick assessment of the data from the West African Bird Database (WABDaB):

    ‘- In Burkina Faso seen quite widely by Zwarts et al. in 2015 and in a number of places around Ouaga and further south since then. No previous information to compare this with.

    – In Niger it seems there are still reasonable numbers of recent records from W in the far south-west. Also some from along the border with Nigeria. In Niamey last two records in 2014 and 2013, before that 1994 … West and NW of Niamey last records from 2008, during waterbird counts. Lack of observer effort is a problem: it has not been safe to go much outside Niamey for the past 8 or so years. Even so, it would not surprise me if numbers have gone down in most of western Niger, perhaps due to poaching and/or disappearance of large trees for nesting (and disappearance of food trees?).

    – In Chad no records (only just comes into Chad).’

  2. Rob Martin (BirdLife International) says:

    Françoise Dowsett-Lemaire and Robert Dowsett have provided the following comment:
    Senegal Parrot: the situation in Benin/Togo, where we have worked in recent years, is more positive than in Ghana (cf. Dowsett-Lemaire & Dowsett 2014). The species is practically throughout, although rare or absent from the highlands of south-west Togo (too wet) and rare in the coastal region (heavily settled). Elsewhere it remains remarkably common, despite being trapped for the pet trade. Small numbers are found in fetish markets.
    Being numerous in most of its range, including many large forest reserves in Benin and beyond, we do not see the need for considering this species as threatened (yet) in its West African range

  3. Rob Martin (BirdLife International) says:

    Preliminary proposal

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2019 Red List would be to continue to list Senegal Parrot as Least Concern, noting that the species population is likely to be declining due to the impact of trapping but not at a rate approaching the threshold for listing as threatened.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline in mid-July, after which the recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    Please note that we will then only post final recommended categorisations on forum discussions where these differ from those in the initial proposal.

    The final 2019 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in December, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

  4. Rowan Martin says:

    Martin et al. (2014, Ostrich 85(3):205-233) highlighted the lack of information available on the status and trends of wild populations throughout the species’ range. The availability of information has not changed substantially in recent years and systematic studies of status and trends remain lacking making an assessment against Red List criteria difficult.

    There are anecdotal reports of declines in some areas (e.g. CITES reported in AC22 Doc. 10.2. Annex 2 “in 2006 that trappers now had to travel further into eastern Senegal than before to obtain stock, indicating a decline in the west at least” and see Martin et al. 2014) but is far from clear how widespread such declines may be. While the available information would not appear to justify the uplisting of Senegal parrots at this time, it would be prudent to assume that populations are declining as proposed.

    It is worth noting that the capture of substantial numbers of wild Senegal parrots for international trade is ongoing. According to figures submitted by CITES Parties (downloaded from on 8th July 2019), Net Exports of wild-sourced Senegal parrots in the three years 2015-2017 totalled 21,271. The majority of these were exported from Senegal and Mali. It’s important to note that the mis-use of the CITES permit system for legal trade in African parrots (Martin et al 2019. Oryx 53(2): 213) may mean that not all of these parrots were Senegal parrots, and that illegal trade in this species also persists (over 100 Senegal parrots have been seized from illegal trade in Guinea in 2019).

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