West Africa’s Illegal Online Bird Trade Finds Most Buyers in South Asia

Environmental News from the Asia Pacific: 

  • A study on the online trade of West African wild birds found that 83 species of wild birds from West Africa were being traded online. These included three species protected under the highly prohibitive CITES Appendix I.
  • Many potential buyers for these birds originated from South Asia and the Middle East. While India has strong domestic restrictions on the import of wild birds, the country is prominently involved in the trade, the researchers noted.
  • The authors have also raised concerns about the spread of disease upon viewing images of multiple species of birds confined together in small enclosures.

The rose-ringed parakeet is a common pet across many countries. The bright green plumage and range of vocalizations make it one of the most sought-after birds in the pet trade. The birds are native to parts of Africa and Asia, where traders capture them to supply the continual demand.

The rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri) has been so widely trafficked that, in 1976, countries moved to list the species in Appendix III of CITES, the global wildlife trade convention, in an effort to monitor and regulate the trade. But in 2007, CITES delisted the rose-ringed parakeet, along with 115 other wild bird species found in West Africa, possibly in response to the European Union banning the import of wild-caught birds in 2005, experts say. While the EU ban did reduce some trade, experts say that sales are picking up in the Middle East and South Asia and that the lack of CITES regulations has made it very difficult to monitor the trade, particularly when it comes to birds originating from West Africa. Although India has strong domestic restrictions on the importation of wild birds, it’s prominently involved in the trade, the researchers noted.

“We know that the unsustainable trade in wild birds from the region has caused populations of some species to collapse but for most species, there is essentially no monitoring of populations in the wild,” Rowan Martin, a wild bird expert who holds positions at both the Centre of Excellence at the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology and the World Parrot Trust, told Mongabay in an email. “We simply don’t know if the trade in these species is remotely sustainable and there is no requirement under the CITES convention to monitor wild populations or even report on the quantities being exported.”

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Source: Mongabay

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