Unsustainable Grey Parrot Trade in South Africa

It has taken us less than 70 years to decimate most grey parrot populations, transforming the species into one of the most abundant, well-known and widespread pet parrots on Earth. Over a million have been captured and removed from the wild to accommodate booming demand over the last century. Millions have now been bred in captivity and sold into international markets. Grey parrots are big business. African grey and Timneh grey parrots were once widespread throughout the tropical forests of central and West Africa. Today, they are restricted to protected forests with reported declines over the last 10-15 years. We have already experienced local extinctions in parts of Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and throughout the range of the Timneh grey parrot in West Africa. The United States banned all trade in wild-caught birds in 1992 and the European Union followed in 2006. Demand for wild-caught birds remains high and may in coming years see a boom in demand from growing, affluent markets in the Far East. High-quality breeding facilities are the norm in the United States, Europe and Australia, but emerging markets and poorly regulated hubs like Bahrain and South Africa are cutting corners and depending heavily on wild-caught birds. Please listen to this interview and watch this slideshow on the trade in wild-caught grey parrots. We need to make sure that no further grey parrots are removed from the wild.


500 confiscated African Grey parrots being allowed to stretch their wings
500 confiscated African Grey parrots being allowed to stretch their wings at the Lwiro Sanctuary. They were later called the “Congo 500”.


In an effort to better conserve the species BirdLife International split the grey parrot into two species, the Timneh grey parrot in West Africa and the African grey parrot in central Africa. It is hoped that this move will upgrade their threat status to Endangered and Vulnerable respectively. The World Parrot Trust petitioned the CITES Secretariat to upgrade both species to Appendix I, worked with airlines and cargo carriers to track trade levels, and recently rehabilitated confiscated grey parrots for release back into the wild. See: http://www.parrots.org/pdfs/parrotnews/grey_parrots_uganda.pdf We are moving slowly in the right direction, but much research is needed to support targeted conservation actions like the protection of potential capture sites and seasonal bans on capture with local government. We need local governments to see the value of protected flagship species like grey parrots. Local conservation authorities almsot always agree that any further capture and trade threatens species survival.


Cyril Laubscher
African grey parrot in captivity. One of the most intelligent birds on earth and an important global ambassador for Africa. (Cyril Laubscher)


African grey parrots and timneh grey parrots are threatened by habitat destruction and capture for the wild-caught bird trade. The effort to keep grey parrots safe in the wild is moving into the forests, salt licks and clearings of the Congo and West African forests, as we mobilize a global effort to save the species from further local extinctions. Saving one of Africa’s most important global ambassador from persecution and capture back home needs to be a global effort. Emerging markets and the increased use of container ships to move large numbers of live birds and animals is spurring recent increases in trade levels. In recent years we have seen several African countries exceed their CITES import/export quotas for wild-caught African parrots. Traders are pushing the limits and moving large numbers of birds at a time, resulting in incidents like the tragic death of hundreds of wild grey parrots on a commercial flight from Johannesburg to Durban. We need to make sure that customs officials have access to the correct information and, for example, know the difference between an African grey parrot, Timneh grey parrot, and Cape parrot. We have a long way to go before we get anywhere near being able to adequately police the wildlife trade in Africa.


This radio interview examines the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of 687 wild-caught African grey parrots on a commercial flight from Johannesburg to Durban…

Link: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2011/12/27/mystery-death-of-687-wild-grey-parrots-on-1-hour-flight-to-durban-revisited/


Frankie Fortyfour/Cape Parrot Project
Companion parrot owner reading a book with their captive-bred African grey parrot. Yes, they are that intelligent… (Frankie Fortyfour/Cape Parrot Project)


I recently visited a non-commercial parrot breeder near East London (South Africa) to film an insert for a local wildlife show (See: “Cape Parrot Project: A Story of People and Parrots over Many Generations…”), and had this experience:

“We were filming outside an African grey parrot breeding pair on eggs. Both were in the nest box when we arrived. After a few minutes the male stuck his head out and turned it upside down to consider us for who we were and figure out what the camera was… After a long silence in contemplation he emerged from the nest hole and walked over like a lurching old man in a grey jacket. He stopped a foot from us and asked, in a perfect parrot voice: “Hello. Do you have an appointment?!” After a calm delivery he paused for a moment and then began to growl softly. Both of us stood there amazed.”

Grey parrots have demonstrated advanced cognitive abilities in long-term lab tests and form complex relationships with human companions. In the wild, these parrots live in balance with nature, avoiding unnecessary risks wherever possible, mating for life, and living long, interactive lives in local populations of thousands of individuals. In captivity as companion parrots they have helped people through personal distress and become important members of the family. Grey parrots have well developed emotions and feelings and need to be treated accordingly. These truly amazing ambassadors of Africa’s tropical forests need several decades of care and conservation action before we can consider harvesting quotas for the wild-caught bird trade. There are too many serious threats and too much historical trade to justify any further trade in wild-caught grey parrots. A similar case can be put forward for most African parrot species. Most species are data deficient or have experienced range reduction and population declines in the last 30 years.


© Diana May. All rights reserved. Source: World Parrot Trust – http://www.parrots.org
African grey parrots feeding in the wild. © Diana May. All rights reserved. Source: World Parrot Trust – http://www.parrots.org


“Outrage over dead parrots”(January 14 2011) By Yolandi Groenewald



World Parrot Trust/PASA
Grey parrots crammed into a travel crate that was confiscated during a smuggling operation. Just look how stressed these poor parrots are… (World Parrot Trust/PASA)



“Bird mafia threatens African greys” (April 18 2011) By Fiona Macleod



World Parrot Trust/PASA
Wild-caught African grey parrots being transported in cramped crates to markets like South Africa and the Far East. (World Parrot Trust/PASA)



“Birds perish as ownership row rages” (July 19 2011) By Sheree Bega




African Grey Parrots during rehabilitation
African Grey Parrots take several weeks to rehabilitate due to the stress of capture and confinement. 


“State hands over parrots to Mozambique” (August 23 2011) By Sheree Bega



World Parrot Trust/PASA
African grey parrots destined to be used a breeding stock for the pet bird trade. (World Parrot Trust/PASA)


Please support the World Parrot Trust’s “Fly Free” Campaign by donating to stimulate positive change for parrots in the wild: 


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.
  • vijay kumar

    any bird is at home in its natural surroundings. we cannot pluck them from their homes to cater to our fancies. a man who keeps a bird in a cage is not an animallover. he is just a consumer of wild products. the grey parrot must be saved from extinction. trade must be banned.

  • Melissa

    Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I believe that some of the photos are mislabeled. I believe that those parrots are Congo African Grays, not Timnehs.


    animals all animals deserve to live free!!!!! Im
    sick of all greedy humans!!!

  • Donna S.

    Bless their feathered little hearts. Woe betide the horrible people who mistreat them !

  • Brenda Quick

    I don’t know how people can be so cruel. Makes my heart hurts for these birds. Something needs to change NOW. This inhumane treatment is totally unacceptable. People never cease to amaze me with what they will do for the almighty dollar. Senseless idiots. Makes me sick!!

  • Grrlscientist

    your article would be more useful if you would only report the facts instead of including gossip, rumour and inaccuracies. include misinformation calls into question everything you claim in this piece, thus, your piece has no credibility at all with rational people.

    just for example, if you’ve ever lived in NYC, then you know that living space there is so highly sought-after and expensive that even the most productive pair of african grey parrots cannot possibly earn enough money from sale of their chicks to pay their own living expenses. further, there are strong “quality of life” laws in NYC that would result in the birds being removed from the premises for creating so much noise.

    further, if you know anything about the reproductive physiology of grey parrots, then you know they are not “indeterminate layers” as chickens are. grey parrots will only lay a certain number of eggs, then stop, regardless of whether the eggs remain in the nest with them. not only that, but birds rely on light to prime their reproductive systems, so grey parrots would not be living in a “dark basement” as you claim, because this would shut down reproduction.

    and your claim that a wild grey parrot is easily replaced with another wild-caught grey parrot when it slows reproduction is a complete fabrication. importing wild parrots is not a trivial matter. it takes months of coordination with a number of government agencies and requires a lot of paperwork from the exporting country and the importing country, as well as veterinary certificates and quarantine paperwork, pre- and post-importation.

    and that’s just one little quibble i have with what you wrote. perhaps you should just stay away from writing serious journalistic stories and go back to writing reviews of children’s movies that you email to your friends?

  • Thanks for the comment Grrlscientist! We have had great information that “bird mills” exist in the NYC and NY State. I am very familiar with the breeding biology of grey parrots and simply making the point that each female is being encouraged to lay the maximum number of eggs and breeders are getting better at this. The simple fact is that government agencies in South Africa and elsewhere are making mistakes and allowing wild-caught birds to be imported after being declared captive-bred after re-export from places like South Africa, Bahrain, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. You write a great blog and thank you for writing about the tragic death of so many grey parrots on that commercial flight in South Africa. See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/punctuated-equilibrium/2011/jan/26/4

  • paulm

    Another example of the slow and painful demise of african wildlife. To all those tourists you better go their now as there will not be anything left in the future

  • Grrlscientist

    no steve, claiming that “We have had great information that “bird mills” exist in the NYC and NY State” is not good enough. that is the same sort of rubbish shouted in the wizard of oz — “ignore the little man behind the curtain”.

    if you want to be taken seriously, define what is a “bird mill”. cite credible sources that shows these so-called “bird mills” exist (claiming rumour as fact isn’t a credible source.)

    and that’s just the beginning of my complaints.

  • Jenny Gulstad

    Africa do have problem with smugglers and shooters that kills exstint animals… and rather put more on the border police and more registration of the birds like we do on our wild birds when we ring mark them and let them out again.

  • LRD

    Steve – Is there any evidence that warring factions or ongoing guerrilla campaign in Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, parts of the DRC are using wildlife such as these parrots to raise funding for their operation? This link for Ivory and rhino horn is documented but not for these species. It would be very interesting to hear. Thanks.

  • Rita De Ferrary

    Parrots do not belong in a humans home. It is unatural for a bird to live in a house. Birds belong free, not in cages, not in houses. Parrots especially are one of the most abused pets because most people are unaware of their needs and most do not care. I saw one grey here live in a tiny cage in a parts store for almost ten years until the selfish POS owner was able to get 800.00 dollars for him. The other lived outside a small gas station grocery where people came and smoked near his cage, he was always coughing and his food was always some garbage food and dirty water. He was eventually stolen. Hoping by a good person. Parrots also have a longer life span than their owners leaving them to strangers if they were liucky enough to have lived a long time with an owner. I have never seen a happy captive parrot – they all look like they want to be free. And they should be. Man is the only beast that takes, cages, shuts away, or otherwise forces other species to live a life solely for the entertainment and vanity of the human species. How beautiful this planet would be without man.

  • Robert

    Here in Gabon i see them everyday flying and there are so many, that seeing them free is just amazing , so sad that there is a dark side of the story with this photos i’ve ever seen before … here in Gabon people don’t talk about it and i’ve never seen such cruelty with grey’s in Gabon .

  • URGENT COMMENT FOR A REPORT: What does this group feel should be done to better regulate the international trade in wild-caught African Grey Parrots? What needs to be done in South Africa and around the world to ensure that wild parrot populations are not threatened by trade? Brainstorm ideas!

  • Eduardo M. Uy

    poor creatures.let’s hope that they will not suffer the same fate like the passenger pigeons.

  • Yvonne Pietersen

    If only the entire Africa and it’s islands would refuse permits for all/any wildlife to be moved from their natural habitat this will help preseve our heritage. Even local airlines/road transport should not be allowed to transport any birds or mamals unless in an emergency situation granted by nature conservation. But unfortunately greed dictates in every corner. Thank you to those that fight daily to save all God’s creatures, hopefully things will change before it is too late. Good Luck

  • Tamara

    I think awareness is the key. First, people have to know what it means to buy a parrot, or to poach a parrot, or to destroy a habitat. That takes time to filter down into a community, and even longer to spread internationally. My understanding is, and I may be wrong, that right now a lot of the illegal bird trade is connected to Asia. That is where the trade is unregulated and running rampant. I have a parrot, an African species. He is from domestic stock bred in the US. Before I chose to bring a parrot into my life, I did my research, looked at where parrot species came from, which ones were suitable to my living situation, which ones were not endangered. Then, I purchased mine from a MAP-certified breeder (MAP means Model Avian Program), which regulates all kinds of things, medical care, quarantine, housing conditions, etc.). I would recommend that anyone who purchases a parrot in the US purchase from a MAP-certified breeder or not at all. Also, contact parrot sanctuaries and learn about parrots, adopt if you are looking for a species common in sanctuaries (I couldn’t find the species I selected in a sanctuary, but I looked). But, all of this is applicable only in the US. I think each country has to build up programs like this (or programs similar but specific to the situation in that country). That cannot happen until people KNOW it’s important and why, so education is the key. It won’t happen overnight, unfortunately. I work in the nonprofit sector, so I know education is slow to change the world sometimes, but it underlies all real change.

  • Betty Clark

    Steve, it appears to me that an immediate educational media blitz is in order, if we are to commandeer the attention of, and train the larger audience. I cite, for example, the destruction of the Mesopotamian marshlands. Species solely dependent upon the marshlands were extirpated under the nose of the global human populace, even to the time when many humans only knew to loudly bemoan the fate of camels in the Baghdad Zoo. They knew only what they had been told by the media over and over again; and I observed that when I attempted to present others with information about the marshlands devastation, most were relatively unimpressed, because the media had not focused on the plight of the marshlands.

    When I occasionally hear references to the result of that disaster now, and you may have noticed this yourself, I invariably hear the term ‘salt-encrusted wasteland.’ This is a term people have been taught to use, and they have no compunction about using it as though they’d contrived it themselves, although I seem to recall that the specific language originates from the initial UNEP report. I would submit that while Psittacus erithacus is an excellent mimic, Homo sapiens is better, and perhaps we must capitalize on that. They just need to know what to say and demand on behalf of preservation of this particular avian species, as well as all species including our own, but in order to become effective advocates, they must be made to understand the interdependent nature of these relationships.

  • Tamara

    Just want to add… people who love and live with parrots, and people who value the planet and the wildlife that lives on it, should all support programs that work to save endangered parrots and the habitats they need to survive. The Cape Parrot Project is a good one, and there are others. Learn about them, and support their work financially and socially. That can help.

  • Betty Clark

    Steve, I want to add that while I don’t have an answer to your specific question, my previous submission serves to outline what I think must be done with the correct answers, which is essentially an insistent dissemination to the larger audience. I regret that I am not knowledgeable enough to offer information about how to help mitigate this specific disaster.

  • James Taylor

    I am amazed that National Geographic would publish this piece of animal rights fluff.
    I could find virtually nothing of any accuracy with regards to African Greys.
    Next time (Though I hope there isn’t one) you attempt to write about a topic, try researching your subject.
    You do a disservice to NGS and African Grey parrots.

  • Jean Pattison

    I have to comment on the breeding of African greys. 20 pair of greys can give a breeder 80 babies a season. Average, that makes 4 babies per pair. I doubt if anyone can or does average that many babies at this time. My greys are cyclic layers and if i were to pull eggs (which most people do not do) they may go off cycle and one ends up with infertility, or no laying at all. I ask, how many babies per pair qualifies as being a bird mill? And who do you know, that has that kind of production?

    If there are bird mills in NY, it is probably residue left over from the late 70s and early 80s. There are very few wild caught African greys left here, compared to what we had in the 80s. Think about it. 20+ years since import stopped here. When do greys stop breeding and how long do these imports of unknown age live, especially being “forced to breed and living in squalor”?

  • Malcolm Winter

    There are more than enough Greys in breeding farms here to feed the UK market, Defra should make a total ban on exporting wild birds to the UK or any country they have powers.

  • Marie T.R.

    Soon this will all end globally . We need to work hard, and pray hard for Gods kingdom to end all wickedness, suffering, and greed.

  • Dear Jim, I would really appreciate more detailed comments from you in regard to the ongoing trade in wild-caught grey parrots. Do you support this trade? It would be wonderful to have your perspective based on your experiences with parrots in Canada. Regards, Dr Steve Boyes

  • Ethical Aviculturist

    There is enough genetic diversity in the captive Grey populations worldwide to sustain captive breeding. All wild caught trade should cease. FULLSTOP. there is no reasonable excuse to continue this ignorant practice, clearly its sole motivator is greed. Exposure, education are key factors in stemming this trade. Public demand for accountability of governments that participate in the importing of wild caught birds will increase pressure and aid in achieving cessation. I am personally against any form of bird milling or poultrification of parrots. We ONLY parent start parrots, we do not incubate and we have very high demand for our birds. I find once a consumer is aware that there is a choice of quality available parent started over poultrification, they are happy to pay the extra dollars. I am aware of many aviculturists that pull eggs from their pairs and the production rate is ALWAYS higher so I beg to differ with Grrlscientist. But we have only been breeding birds for four decades.

  • Susanne Edlund

    It becomes a deeper and deeper hole in my heart every time I see these horror movies and hread horror stories about wild-caught parrots. The best we can do all together on this issue, I think is to demand a total ban on both the export and import of wild-caught birds in all countries of the world! If everyone who shares this view, courting their government in their country, they may eventually embrace the message and facing a ban. I myself live in Sweden and we have a total ban on the import of wild-caught birds for some time back. Some species such as parrots should not even be bred in captivity in my own opinion since we humans is far from able to meet their needs in order to thrive in captivity. So many parrots in distress in the small cages and with owners who do not have a clue how they are cared for. I love all kinds of Parrots but would prefer to see them in their own habitat. I know that people in some countries caught these birds to survive themselves, but if there is no buyers/market left they must find other ways of making money.

  • Donna Shore

    Education is important. These people are trying to ear money and with their limited knowledge believe that they can get compensated by selling these poor creatures. These poor people need to learn an alternate way to earn income. They aren’t being cruel but ignorant to compassion because they have nothing. I’m not making excuses but it is a FACT.

  • Donna Shore

    Education is important. These people are trying to earn money and with their limited knowledge believe that they can get compensated by selling these poor creatures. These poor people need to learn an alternate way to earn income. They aren’t being cruel but ignorant to compassion because they have nothing. I’m not making excuses but it is a FACT.

  • Grrlscientist

    steve: I checked your “facts” presented in this article and wrote a lengthy rebuttal that I published here.. I sent this information to the editors at National Geographic who were quite interested to read it, but I mention it here because I think those who read this piece should also be aware of the large factual discrepancies that you publish.

    I’m also researching and writing an opinion piece inspired by this article that will appear on the Guardian that I think you will find interesting.

    Oh, and I see that my follow-up comment from several days ago is still in moderation even though other comments have been published. when will that be appearing on this site?

  • Thank you for your comments and willingness to pick this story in your blog. I made some edits to the blog to focus in on the core message: “Please help us halt the wild-caught bird trade in Africa”. My apologies for not posting one of your comments right away. Please let us know when you blog in the Guardian is posted.

  • Ethical Aviculturist

    It’s a credit to you Steve that you are doing something constructive about the preservation of African parrots in the wild, personally I find that more commendable than pursuing a self serving game of blogging one upmanship.

    As you have reinterated the message is ““Please help us halt the wild-caught bird trade in Africa.” so I think people should clarify if there agenda is purely to create obstacles that obstruct the delivery of the message.

  • emmett renshaw

    a lot of rot. i worked in italy at a quarantine station but dead birds among the african greys were quite rare.when there were some deaths it was because of sickness the bird was suffering with some time.the exporters in the congo did not know a lot about birds and there were no experienced vets with bird knowledge.we had thought if the ban on importation had not been brought in we would go down with a local bird vet and check the shipment before departure as we had done in guyana.on that shipment we only chose healthy birds chosen by our vet,there were no dead or sick birds in that shipment.i think from what i heard in the current interview there are many false statements.those birds if checked will reveal why they died.

  • emmett renshaw

    a lot of ignorance.i worked in italy in a quarantine station and many shipments of greys were imported with minimum deaths during the flight.maybe one or two birds.some exporters are better than others.before the ban was put in place we had decided to go down to congo with our vet to examine and sex the birds before shipping them to italy.we had done this in guyana and lost no birds in those shipments.but the vet had taken out the birds that were sick or in bad health.there were no vets locally capable of doing this with parrots.anyway i think there are many wrong things said in that interview,having had first hand experience.

  • Grrl Scientist: Thank you for your in-depth comments and insights on the linked blog post. Yes, it is ridiculous the breeding facilities in South Africa, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Mozambique and Bahrain are allowed to treat grey parrots so terribly. There is a noticeable difference between a breeder that values breeding stock as long-term assets and one that has easy access to wild-caught parrots and sees breeding stock as replaceable. Conditions are improving around the world as breeders become better funded, but as soon as a criminal element takes over (like in South Africa) you have an erosion of standards as corners are cut to maximize profit. There are cases of tax evasion and falsification of import documents. The people involved do not care about parrots.

    The simple message of my blogs on this trade in wild-caught grey parrots is that it needs to end as soon as possible. I adjusted the blog by reducing the text and focussing on this core message. Grey parrots are long-lived and cannot be caught en masse without terrible consequences for local populations. This trade needs to be halted until we have allowed remaining grey parrot populations enough time to recover and for their population status and breeding biology to be properly studied. There is a massive problem that needs to be sorted out before grey parrot populations are further threatened. I would appreciate your participation in the process of finding solutions for the problems facing wild grey parrots on a rapidly changing African continent.

  • Gino Conzo

    I’m an avian vet with a long experience with African Greys Parrots. I worked as consultant for some of the main quarantine stations in Italy from 1992 to 2006. I also worked with smuggled Greys in Africa (Cameroon, DRC and recently Uganda). I have also a good practice with pet greys owners and greys’ breeders in Italy.
    On the basis of my experience I don’t agree with Emmet’s informations for many reasons.
    I will try to explain.
    AGP mortality is very high during all the steps from capture to arrival to final owner.
    Mortality of this species from capture to export is estimated at 30-50% in Cameroon (Fotso 1998b), 40-50% in DRC (Fotso 1998a), 60-66% in Nigeria (McGowan 2001), and up to 50% in Guinea/Guinea-Bissau (Clemmons 2003).
    AGP mortality in quarantine (30 days) was normally 10%-15% and it means at least 20-30 parrots for a shipment of 200 birds, resembling the quantity normally shipped in the past to Italy. Of course for more numerous shipments the mortality rate increases dramatically. So I don’t believe that only 1 or 2 parrots died as Emmet wrote (it could be possible of course if he was speaking about a shipment of only 10-20 parrots…). Lost in quarantine were mainly related to acute bacterial infections (E. coli, Salmonella, etc.), Reovirus infections and Aspergillosis. Literature is full of published papers about these diseases in imported parrots, also including greys! During my work in quarantine I did a personal database about the diseases related to the imported species and I wasn’t surprised that other vets did the same. My data about mortality of wild caught greys were similar to the data of other colleagues working in other quarantine stations in Europe (I was in touch with many of them). Parrots survived to quarantine had normally a poor life if they are kept as pet. After few years many of them died for inappropriate nutrition and diseases or were refused by their owners because their wild behaviour. Even the greys kept as breeding pairs lived a bad life in very small cages (1 square metre of dimension), spending most of the time inside the nest box. Many of them also died in few years because they developed easily Aspergillosis. Wild caught parrots are easily stressed so they become very sensitive to a lot of infectious diseases.
    Emmet spoke about his travels with the vet to Congo and Guyana to check parrots and sexing them; in this way he was able to ship to Italy only the birds in good health. This is a very good point of view for a business man who has to save his money, not for the parrots!
    What happened to the other parrots refused by Emmet? Were they released in the wild? Or, more probably, other parrots were caught to satisfy Emmet’s request? How many parrots died for the supplementary stress of a new examination and sexing? Emmet’s opinion is that there are “good and bad” exporters… For my opinion the exporters considered “good” by Emmet are only offering (probably at a bigger price) parrots in apparent better health then other; but for every Grey “in good health” many other are died!
    I can’t say exactly the number of Greys survived after some years from capture, but if I should compare this number to an image, well… the first one that appear in my mind is the “top of an iceberg”…
    Of course the same happens with other species. As Emmet knows most of the parrots imported from Guyana died for Pacheco Disease. This viral diseases is endemic in Guyana and many parrots species are sensitive and develop acute disease with mortality rate even of 100%. Once I saw the death in few days of more then 600 parrots of different species for Pacheco imported in Italy. For this reason some vets from Europe went to Guyana to check “good parrots” as Emmet did. Unfortunately the Herpesvirus of Pacheco Disease can infect in asymptomatic way and the disease normally spreads after some day after arrival to quarantine facility because the stress of shipment.
    I agree with Steve: wild caught greys trade must finish soon! This species is well bred in captivity. There is no reason to get this parrots from the wild!!!

    Gino Conzo, DVM, PhD.
    Verona, Italy

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  • Karen van der Merwe

    Steve i am a farmers wife and decided to buy many African Greys. If you were in my shoes that farming is to expensive and love birds for many years, have enough spice, cages indoors and outdoors. It’s a dream come true what will you do and with witch exporters will you deal and were will you buy?????????

  • afele john tennyson

    lets learn to handle the birds with much more care, they are of great importance to the environment

  • Dinuka perera

    I personally feel very sorry for those wild captured innocent animals and its too bad that people have forgotten the real need of animals to be present in the world than the presence of human being.
    Cuz there is no real contribution from human to nature except bringing disasters.
    Even in sri lanka there thousands of trees are being cut down by smugglers but no volunteers to raise voice against.
    Eventhough some have the willing to do it to go against smuggling but have no backing or funds, like me.
    what else to do other than feeling sorry.

    I wish there would be a day that animals capture human beings to pet in an aviary, so there human being will truly understand to realize what they had done to the nature while they were earning money by confinement of poor wild animals….. may be by selling as pets or by selling for flesh.

    Simply I would love to tell the world “Hey, Dear human being, may u cant think of nature. But think if ur fun is some one’s pain, imagine the pain was urs and realize how it might have hurt u, if it were u in a cage and an african grey looking at ur activites outside – by staning on his shoes.”

    Otherwise human beings will sooner extinct when we lose the natural balance which is controlled by animals at the moment.

    Thanks for reading.

    Dinuka perera

  • Eve

    Dear Dinuka Perera, I want to simply note that I agree with you! Thank you Steve for writing this article in National Geographic THREE whole years ago! My goodness this is STILL so relevant and I wonder when will humans wake up? Surely when it’s all too late.

  • suleman ibrahim sidi

    I have parrot ,so I love too know more about them .
    Tanks you all…………….

  • suleman ibrahim sidi

    Am the Bird man
    I have African Grey
    I love too know more about parrot …..

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Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

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Voices director: David Braun (dbraun@ngs.org)

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