Trade ban on wild African greys

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - ARTHIE GOPI

THE Con­ven­tion on In­ter­na­tional Trade in En­gan­gered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) has voted for an in­ter­na­tional ban on trade in wild African grey par­rots.

Dr Col­man O’Cri­o­dain, of the World Wildlife Fund, said the ban would pro­tect the bird from “ram­pant trap­ping and trad­ing”, largely in the Congo basin, which was lead­ing to a fall in pop­u­la­tion fig­ures in the wild. The ban did not ex­tend to ac­cred­ited cap­tive-bred breed­ers. “Fraud and cor­rup­tion have en­abled traf­fick­ers to vastly ex­ceed cur­rent quo­tas and con­tinue to har­vest un­sus­tain­able num­bers of African grey par­rots from Congo’s forests to feed the il­le­gal trade,” he said.

An­dré Wienekus, whose fam­ily has run an African Grey par­rot-breed­ing com­pany for about 30 years, said when peo­ple bought these par­rots they needed to check whether sell­ers had a par­rot breeder’s cer­tifi­cate.

“Only buy from a place that can show you cre­den­tials and do your home­work be­fore­hand. I would be hes­i­tant to buy off the in­ter­net.”

Wienekus said they were still work­ing out the de­tails of how the new Cites agree­ment would work.

Mark An­der­son, head of Birdlife SA, said: “It is im­por­tant to note that this list­ing re­sults in a ban in the trade of wild-caught birds, but does not af­fect the trade in cap­tive-bred in­di­vid­u­als. Com­mer­cial breed­ers will be re­quired to reg­is­ter with Cites (likely through the De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs) and be able to vouch for the fact that the birds in which they trade have prove­nance as cap­tive-bred. In­di­vid­ual pet own­ers will not be af­fected. Should they wish to em­i­grate with their bird, they will be re­quired to ap­ply for a ‘pet pass­port’ which will en­able them to trans­port their pet bird with­out un­due prob­lem,” he said.

eThek­wini mu­nic­i­pal­ity spokes­woman Tozi Mthethwa said African greys were sought-af­ter for their abil­ity to mimic speech and sounds.

“They are also highly in­tel­li­gent, hav­ing the same ca­pac­ity as a 3-year-old child in some cases.”

arthi.gopi@inl.co.za

PIC­TURE: SIBONELO NG­COBO

An in­ter­na­tional agree­ment on wild African grey par­rots seeks to pro­tect the species. Only ac­cred­ited cap­tive breed­ers will now be able to sell the birds.

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