Above: Despite having the highest legal protection in Cameroon, wild African grey parrots
are facing extinction due to poaching for the illegal wildlife trade © Shutterstock.com/MrKawa

 

AN ILLEGAL SHIPMENT of Endangered African grey parrots has been intercepted in Cameroon, saving the birds from wildlife traffickers.

Shocking footage released by the international conservation charity Zoological Society of London (ZSL) shows the appalling conditions the eight birds were being trafficked in. In the video, the birds’ distress calls can be clearly heard. 

Acting on advice from ZSL’s experts, Cameroon’s Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks (MINFOF) were able to intercept the shipment in the town of Djoum. The birds are thought to have been destined for sale in the capital Yaoundé.

The individual who was caught with the birds could face up to three years in prison and a fine if convicted. He currently awaits trial.

The way these birds are taken from the wild is very cruel. Samuel Nebaneh, ZSL’s Cameroon law enforcement coordinator, explained: “Poachers use parrots they have previously captured as lures, tethering the birds beside branches covered in glue. Wild parrots, who are naturally sociable, fly down to investigate the newcomers. Once stuck they can’t escape and are then packed into crates, often without food or water. Many do not survive.”

The eight birds are being housed at the Limbe Wildlife Centre where they will remain until they have recovered. The plan is to release the parrots back to the forests from which they were taken.  

African grey parrots have declined throughout their range due to illegal wildlife trade. Numbers of the species’ population in Cameroon is unknown, but nearby populations in Ghana are thought to have fallen by as much as 99 per cent since 1992. The birds are often sold to the pet market in Asia or locally for their feathers, heads and feet.

For the last 10 years, ZSL has worked in Cameroon to help tackle wildlife trafficking. More recently, bird experts from ZSL London and Whipsnade Zoos, alongside the World Parrot Trust (WPT), have been training MINFOF’s eco-guards to care for the parrots they seize. This gives the rescued birds a higher chance of being returned to the wild.

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