While its exotic, colourful and extravagant cousins – like South American Macaws or Australian Cockatoos – may steal the limelight when it comes to conservation, the lesser-known, more modest-looking green Cape Parrot fights its own humble battle for survival.
Until recently, most captive-bred progeny of True Cape Parrots were produced from wild-caught birds. Now, the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (Act 10 of 2004) – or NEMBA – regulates all CITES-listed species, like Poicephalus robustus robustus. Individuals caught trafficking such species illegally face fines of up to R100 000 and prison terms of up to 10 years.
To conserve this gentle, shy, little parrot, it’s vital that all interested parties work together – and with the general public, amongst whom awareness must be raised. In South Africa, there are a group of committed conservationists, environmentalists, aviculturalists and zoologists who are pooling their knowledge, expertise and other resources, into ensuring that this critically endangered species survives, both in captivity and in the wild.
Captive breeding programmes will prove vital to stabilizing the numbers of this species and, due to their scarcity, there has recently been an increase in interest in the breeding of Cape Parrots among bird breeders; however, it’s important that any interest in breeding this species is founded on the principles of conservation, rather than on that of financial gain through the "poulryfication" of species in captivity.
On the horizon, an exciting initiative to hack (reintroduce) Cape Parrots into the (few remaining) Yellowood forests in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. C.A.P.E.S is watching these developments with keen interest.