Changing Planet

First-Ever Footage of Africa’s Most Endangered Parrot Feeding in High Canopy…

Cape parrots (Poicephalus robustus) are one of the most endangered birds in South Africa, and the most endangered parrot in Africa… There are less than 1,000 remaining in the wild, all restricted to an archipelago of small Afromontane forest patches between the Eastern Cape and Limpopo Provinces. We work everyday with local communities to save this enigmatic African parrot species from extinction. Our current battle is with an outbreak of Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) virus that threatens the persistence of wild populations. See this National Geographic On Assignment report:


A shining example of a female Cape Parrot in flight... This is the future of the species and we need to make sure she has a safe place to live and has access to food yearround. (Rodnick Clifton Biljon / Cape Parrot Project)
A shining example of a female Cape Parrot in flight… This is the future of the species and we need to make sure she has a safe place to live and has access to food yearround. (Rodnick Clifton Biljon / Cape Parrot Project)


Please watch this important amazing video on the Cape Parrot Project by National Geographic Missions Media:

Please also join the Cape Parrot Project group on Facebook and get to know Africa’s most endangered parrot a little better…


Steve Boyes
The “Big Tree” in Aukland Forest Reserve near Hogsback is one of two forest giants remaining along the Amathole Mountain range. Hundreds of such trees used to be scattered across these mountains. (Steve Boyes)


In September 2009, myself and Jerome Hillaire decided to place ourselves on the edge of a 50m cliff above the last-remaining intact grove of Afrocarpus yellowwoods in the Aukland Forest Reserve. We knew that the yellowwood trees were in fruit, but were confused as to why the parrots were not feeding on them? This grove of emergent yellowwoods was on their flight path to high mountain roosts and the fruits were clearly visible from the air… Maybe they were simply not looking for yellowwood fruits anymore? We decided to show them by using vocalization playbacks of Cape Parrots excitedly feeding on pecan nuts to “call” them in to feed on the abundant yellowwood fruits. We were very excited, as we knew that, if we pulled this off, this was a unique opportunity to see and film Cape parrots feeding in the high canopy of threatened Afromontane forest. Cape parrots had only ever been viewed from the forest floor as they fed in the highest portions of the canopy, their emerald green bellies making them notoriously hard to spot from the ground. Tied onto trees and waiting in anticipation we started the playback…

There we were on a perfect spring afternoon with parrot calls and chattering playing as we balanced precariously on the edge of a 50m cliff above the forest… We had color replicas of Cape Parrots in the trees around us to draw the parrots’ attention after the playback was turned off. Within 15 minutes on the first day we had two magnificent Cape parrots, a 20+ year old breeding pair, right in front of us. The male was very shy and is filmed in this video clip. The female was very different and remained very interested in us the whole time we were there. She can be heard in the background. I cannot describe how beautiful this scene, the sounds, the mountain, the trees and these parrots really were and hope this video clip captures the depth of the beauty and wonder it inspires… The light was from heaven, the angels asked us to do everything we can to protect these forests from further destruction. We both walked away in awe of a place, a parrot and a moment…


See the footage from Day 2…


Please help us save the Cape parrot and the forests they depend upon by donating to the Cape Parrot Project via the World Parrot Trust: Please also watch this National Geographic video about our work:

Steve Boyes has dedicated his life to conserving Africa's wilderness areas and the species that depend upon them. After having worked as a camp manager and wilderness guide in the Okavango Delta and doing his PhD field work on the little-known Meyer's Parrot, Steve took up a position as a Centre of Excellence Postdoctoral Fellow at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. He has since been appointed the Scientific Director of the Wild Bird Trust and is a 2014 TED Fellow. His work takes him all over Africa, but his day-to-day activities are committed to South Africa's endemic and Critically Endangered Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus). Based in Hogsback Village in the Eastern Cape (South Africa), Steve runs the Cape Parrot Project, which aims to stimulate positive change for the species through high-quality research and community-based conservation action. When not in Hogsback, Steve can be found in the Okavango Delta where he explores remote areas of this wetland wilderness on "mokoros" or dug-out canoes to study endangered bird species in areas that are otherwise inaccessible. Steve is a 2013 National Geographic Emerging Explorer for his work in the Okavango Delta and on the Cape Parrot Project.
  • Yvonne Pietersen

    So great to see this video of a very healthy Cape Parrot – thank you

  • Philippa Elaine Castle

    “The light was from heaven, the angels asked us to do everything we can to protect these forests from further destruction.”
    I shall be auctioning off some wonderful bird photos from winners bird photos, kindly donated, printed and framed by Nightjar Travel. Keep up to date with the 2013 Nightjar Travel SA Birds Photographic Competition at



  • warda

    My family is fond of parrots even we have many parrots at home.It is quite a rare specie of parrot,the Cape parrot.Thank you for providing such a valuable video and snap shot of this amazing parrot.

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