PARROTS' PLUM FEAST
THE reddish fruit of the Harpephyllum caffrum, or wild plum, may be too sour for humans to enjoy, but there is one species that can’t seem to get enough, Cape parrots.
Also known as Levaillant’s parrot (named after 18th century naturalist François Levaillant), these dark green birds are endemic to South Africa and can be found in the forests and mountainous areas along the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal coast.
Every year, the birds travel to the King area to enjoy the freshly-ripened fruit, often gathering in flocks of up to 40 birds per tree. The wild plums in King provide the parrots with a much-needed supply of food in winter when other supplies might be low.
This is especially important because the Cape parrot is listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List, though some analyses mark it as “endangered”. There are only an estimated 400 Cape parrots left in the wild and, like all wild animals, their numbers are constantly threatened by increased urbanisation and the destruction of habitat.
Thankfully, there are organisations like the Hogsback-based Cape Parrot Project who are working to protect them so, for now, it seems that our feathered friends can go on enjoying their plums.
PLUM CRAZY: The Cape parrot is a yearly visitor to King and is a fan of wild plums