Deceased? Not if scheme to halt trade succeeds

A A A

Talent can be fatal. There's hardly any bird that can imitate the human voice like the African grey parrot - Pretty Polly is only the start of it - which as a result is one of the world's favourite pets, and particularly popular in Britain.

But now its very popularity is becoming a mortal danger, as trade in the birds is driving them to extinction in an increasing part of their range. Tomorrow, conservationists will make a bid to have the massive international traffic in grey parrots temporarily banned, or at least slowed down, to give the species a chance to recover from the depredations of collectors, traders and bird fanciers, while conservation measures are put in place.

At a committee meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) in Lima, Peru, officials from BirdLife International, the global alliance of bird conservation groups, will ask for a full moratorium on the trade in African greys, or at least a trade suspension or reduction, in some of the leading exporting countries, including Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Cameroon.

Although there are still substantial numbers of the birds in the wild across tropical Africa - estimates of the numbers range between 680,000 and 13 million individuals - the population as a whole has been shrinking dramatically, and in some of the 23 African countries where it is traditionally found it has virtually disappeared. BirdLife is proposing that it be added to the official list of endangered species maintained by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Behind the decline lies the enormous trade in African greys. Between 1994 and 2003 more than 359,000 wild-caught birds were traded, according to Cites' records. Major exporting countries are led by Cameroon, with 44 per cent of the reported trade, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, with 33 per cent, while the major importers are the countries of the European Union, including Britain.

According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the EU is responsible for 93 per cent of the trade in wild birds listed with Cites.

The African grey parrot's popularity as a pet is not hard to understand. People have enjoyed its ability to mimic the human voice for centuries. Henry VIII famously owned an African grey that would summon boatmen from across the water at Hampton Court Palace, while Queen Victoria continued the tradition with her African grey, Coco, that was taught "God Save the Queen".

More recently, and rather more prosaically, Ziggy, an African grey parrot, alerted his owner to the infidelity of his girlfriend by squawking "hiya Gary" when she answered her mobile phone. The couple split up and the parrot's owner gave the bird away because it kept calling Gary's name.

But now just too many of the birds are being taken. "There's no doubt that because of the trade, the African grey parrot is now on the way to becoming an endangered species," said Alison Stattersfield, of BirdLife.

"The pet trade has been exploiting wild birds for decades, yet the trade goes on with too little thought for its sustainability," said Duncan McNiven, the senior investigations officer at the RSPB. "The plight of the African grey reflects the state of the bird trade as a whole, and as the world's major importer of wild birds, the EU should now be banning imports of all wild birds."

Sport
Premier League Live
footballLIVE Follow all the Premier League action as it happens
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + echSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
News
James Argent from Towie is missing, police say
peopleTV star had been reported missing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Commercial Property Solicitor - Bristol

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM A high qual...

DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, Linux, Shell, Bash)

£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, L...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone