Thursday, 06 Jul 2006 11:17
- Peterborough Evening Telegraph, UK
Britain's most popular talking parrot, the African grey, is under threat, wildlife campaigners have warned.
According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), numbers of the parrot are declining in the 23 countries in which it is found as a result of the trade in wild birds.
As such trading quotas will have to be reassessed for the third time at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which opens tomorrow.
The RSPB believes that the African grey's decline is in part due to weak existing trade controls.
"The pet trade has been exploiting wild birds for decades yet the trade goes on with too little thought for its sustainability," said Duncan McNiven, senior investigations officer at the RSPB.
"The plight of the African grey reflects the state of the bird trade as a whole and as the world's major importer of wild birds, the EU should now be banning imports of all wild birds."
CITES records show that nearly 360,000 African grey parrots were legally traded between 1994 and 2003, with Europe being responsible for 93 per cent of this figure.
As a result of the decline the RSPB is advocating a permanent ban of the wild bird trade, and has drawn attention to the estimated one million birds which escaped a life in cages in European countries after the EU suspended wild bird imports following bird flu outbreaks.
"Local people rarely benefit when birds are exported from their countries with profits going to middle men and importers instead. The UK government and the EU as a whole is playing a major role in the decline of these magnificent birds and should do all it can to initiate a permanent ban," Mr McNiven added.