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Nearly 900 endangered African grey parrots have been traded in a single traditional medicine market in West Africa in the past decade.
World Animal Protection (WAP) African denounced that the African grey parrot, which is renowned for its beauty, is facing a huge threat to its survival amid illegal hunting to meet growing demand in the traditional medicine markets.
"These highly intelligent, sociable birds that fly many miles each day and can sometimes live so long that they outlive their owners, are cruelly trapped, brutally handled and slaughtered for their derivatives for unproven traditional medicines," WAP Wildlife Campaign Manager in Africa Edith Kabesiime said.
WAP studies show that nearly 900 endangered African grey parrots have been traded in a single traditional medicine market in West Africa in the past decade. Some African communities believe the birds' body parts boost intelligence and memory while offering protection against witchcraft.
Kabesiime said that illegal trade in African grey parrots to satisfy local and foreign demand could push them to extinction while disrupting ecosystems balance.
"What is worse is that untreated bird carcasses pose a serious health risk, as birds can carry numerous diseases," Kabesiime explained, adding that unregulated trade in Africa's iconic bird species could worsen the risk of zoonotic diseases.
A scientific paper published by "Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution" journal indicates that over 1.2 million African grey parrots have been traded since the 1970s, hence posing an immense threat to animal welfare and conservation.
“While international trade has mostly been for the pet trade, in some West African countries, grey parrots are also consumed for belief-based use," says the paper, adding that parrot heads were the most frequently traded since 2017 for medicinal purposes while the feathers were traded for their spiritual and aesthetic value.
Kabesiime said that a ban on international trade in African grey parrots combined with robust community-based conservation is key to halt their extinction.