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Conservationists sound alarm over growing threats to African grey parrot

African grey parrot are being traded in traditional medicine markets in West Africa, hence pushing them to the edge of extinction.

Nairobi, Kenya | Xinhua | The African grey parrot that is renowned for its beauty is facing a huge threat to its survival amid illegal hunting to meet growing demand in the traditional medicine markets, conservationists said on Wednesday.

Edith Kabesiime, Wildlife Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection African office said that body parts of the African grey parrot are being traded in traditional medicine markets in West Africa, hence pushing them to the edge of extinction.

“These highly intelligent, sociable birds that fly many miles each day and can sometimes live so long that they outlive their owners, are cruelly trapped, brutally handled and slaughtered for their derivatives for unproven traditional medicines,” Kabesiime said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

Research conducted by World Animal Protection indicates that nearly 900 endangered African grey parrots have been traded in a single traditional medicine market in West Africa in the past decade.

According to conservationists, some African communities believe the birds’ body parts boost intelligence and memory while offering protection against witchcraft.

Kabesiime said that illegal trade in African grey parrots to satisfy local and foreign demand could push them to extinction while disrupting ecosystems balance.

“What is worse is that untreated bird carcasses pose a serious health risk, as birds can carry numerous diseases,” said Kabesiime adding that unregulated trade in Africa’s iconic bird species could worsen the risk of zoonotic diseases.

A scientific paper published recently by Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution journal indicates that over 1.2 million wild-sourced African grey parrots have been traded globally since the 1970’s, hence posing immense threat to animal welfare, conservation and biosecurity.

“While international trade has mostly been for the pet trade, in some West African countries, grey parrots are also consumed for belief-based use,” says the paper.

The paper says that parrot heads were the most frequently traded since 2017 for medicinal purposes while the feathers were traded for their spiritual and aesthetic value.

Kabesiime said that a ban on international trade in African grey parrots combined with robust community-based conservation is key to halt their extinction.

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Xinhua

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