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Africa’s Most Endangered Parrot Revealed Like Never Before

South Africa’s Cape parrot is among the most endangered parrots on earth with less than 1,000 adults remaining in the wild, and the constant threat of starvation and disease looming… Over the last 350 years we have done a very good job of destroying South Africa’s yellowwood forests, removing millions of millions of large hardwoods to supply railway sleepers and mining timber for the rapid economic boom that resulted from the discovery of gold and diamonds. Some of the highest quality timber available was crudely cut up and used to fuel industrial development. With the yellowwoods, stinkwoods, wild plums, wild olives, ironwoods and knobwoods went important “forest refugia” for many endemic and now threatened species like the Amathole toad, Hogsback frog, Cape parrot, Samango monkey, and other Afromontane forest specialists that depend on these forests being stable for thousands upon thousands of years through ice ages, wet and dry periods, as well as natural distasters like fire and storms. Most of the forest specialists like woodpeckers and barbets are hard to find these days, while the parrots hang on due to their cognitive abilities and intelligence that allow them to literally “make a plan” to adjust to drastic alterations to the forest habitat that they depend on. We need to rebuild these forests or we stand to lose endemic species that cannot be replaced…

 

Cape parrots now feed on the plums from Japan, pecans from the USA, acorns from England, wattle seeds from Australia, syringa fruits from India, and Jacaranda pods from South America, which have replaced the yellowwood fruits that they used to rely on for over 90% of their diet. Today, they do not even waste their time looking for yellowwood trees in fruit, as there are so few female tress left that bear fruit, while a hundred years ago there would have been a grove of yellowwoods in fruit all year round. Groves that could provide food for many multiples of the currently existing local populations in the Eastern Cape, old Transkei, KwaZulu-Natal, and Limpopo Province. Their new diet has too much fat and sugar in it, and comes up short between january and March when there is nothing to eat. In drought years, starving, malnourished parrots become more susceptible to Pssitacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) and, in 2011, we discovered a 100% infection rate in 48 samples taken from a local population of approximately 275 Cape parrots. Alarming to say the least. It is our responsibility to restore South Africa’s Afromontane yellowwood forests to their former glory. The best research available says that it will take us over 350 years to completely rehabilitate these forests. We, the Wild Bird Trust, plant thousands fo yellowwood trees within degraded forest patches along the Amathole Mountain Range each year. At the same time we plant thousands of wild olives, wild plums and stinkwoods in community-run indigenous tree plots in the valleys below these forest patches to provide new feeding sites for Cape parrots within the next 7-10 years.

 

Please join the Cape Parrot Project group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/capeparrotproject/) to stay up-to-date on our mission to help save this ambassador of South Africa’s previously impressive yellowwood forests. Like the majestic redwood forests of California and Oregon were chopped down for their amazing red timber, our yellowwoods were also removed because of their wonderful golden timber….

 

PLEASE SUPPORT THE “LET’S HELP THE CAPE PARROT OF SOUTH AFRICA” CAUSE BY DONATING AND GETTING YOUR FRIENDS INVOLVED:  https://www.causes.com/causes/463389-let-s-help-save-the-cape-parrot-of-south-africa

Rodnick Biljon

A breathtaking photograph taken by the "Cape parrot whisperer", Rodnick Biljon, who is the only person able to approach the Cape parrots in King William's Town. They know him and allow him to take these stunning photos. (Rodnick Biljon)

Steve Boyes

Small flock of Cape parrots roosting in the early morning sun while over 250 parrots circle above them on their way to the Cape Parrot Sanctuary. These early mornings between March and July each year are very special to witness. (Steve Boyes)

Steve Boyes

About 65 Cape parrot circling over the Cape Parrot Sanctuary inaugurated as part of the Cape Parrot Project. This flock represents 5-15% of the global population and at least one third of the local population. (Steve Boyes)

Rodnick Biljon

Cape parrot taking off from a high perch. Caught here forever in this amazing photograph by the "Cape Parrot whisperer", Rodnick Biljon. (Rodnick Biljon)

Rodnick Biljon

A sensitive moment between Rodnick Biljon and this young, inquisitive Cape parrot that is feeding in a wild plum tree. (Rodnick Biljon)

Rodnick Biljon

Two young Cape parrots radiant in the sunlight. Perfect parrots like these are the future of the species and need to be protected from the ravages of beak and feather disease. (Rodnick Biljon)

Rodnick Biljon

There are less than 1,000 adult Cape parrots remaining in the wild. Remaining local populations seem unable to recover due to excessive commercial logging, disease, and the wild-caught bird trade. (Rodnick Biljon)

Steve Boyes

There are few birds that could possibly enjoy flying more than Cape parrots. Here is a flock of Cape parrots excitedly arriving at the Cape Parrot Sanctuary in Alice (Eastern Cape, South Africa) to feed on the 54 pecan nut trees in our orchard. They dive and weave between each other as they scream wildly! (Steve Boyes)

Rodnick Biljon

A shining example of a Cape parrot perched in the morning sunlight. Can we consider a world without radiant creatures like this in it? (Rodnick Biljon)

Rodnick Biljon

Two young Cape parrots in a "nursery tree" in King William's Town where they wait for the parents to return and feed them. They are often more relaxed and are reluctant to leave the tree. (Rodnick Biljon)

Rodnick Biljon

Beautiful Cape parrot feeding in a wild plum tree. They enjoy these fruits when they are green or red. The Cape Parrot Project has planted over 2,000 wild plum trees to provide alternative feeding sites for Cape parrots along the Amathole mountains. (Rodnick Biljon)

Rodnick Biljon

Cape parrot flying low over a wild plum tree. Africa's most endangered parrot like never before... (Rodnick Biljon)

Rodnick Biljon

Cape parrot parent feeding a fledgling in King William's Town (South Africa). We need to ensure that this fledgling survives to breeding age. (Rodnick Biljon)

Rodnick Biljon

Almost all of the Cape parrots in King William's Town congregate every morning at this specific bird bath. Notice their poor condition due to the ravages of beak and feather disease and malnutrition. (Rodnick Biljon)

Rodnick Biljon

An inquisitive Cape parrot feeding on a wild plum in King William's Town. If the town council had not decided to plant these trees along the roads in the 1970s, there would probably be far less Cape parrots in the region. They feed on these nutritious fruits for up to 10 months of the year. (Rodnick Biljon)

Steve Boyes

Wild male Cape parrot that broke his wing when flying into a large power line. He escaped with his life, but will never fly again. These amazing aviators fly up to 250km per day to take advantage of distant feeding grounds. Here he looks out and remembers the freedom he once knew in the skies... (Steve Boyes)

Rodnick Biljon

Cape parrot with extensive yellow feathers on the wings and body. It is still unclear what is causing the high incidence of yellow feathers on Cape parrots in the Amathole region. Indications are that it could be an immune reaction and/or the result of low genetic variability. (Rodnick Biljon)

Steve Boyes

Young male Cape parrot that tested positive for Pssitacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) virus and more than likely died a few days later from bad cold weather and snow. (Steve Boyes)

Steve Boyes

An adult female Cape parrot that was rescued after being found unable to fly in a swimming pool. She spent 3 months in a warm box on anti-biotics and supplements, and another 3 months in rehabilitation before being released back into the wild. She was to become known as "Alice". (Steve Boyes)

Steve Boyes

Cape parrot displaying advanced symptoms of Pssitacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) infection. The feathers have degraded, crumbled and fallen off and the only reason this parrot is still alive is that the beak has not yet broken. We could not catch this individual and it can be accepted that he/she died a few days later. (Steve Boyes)

Rodnick Biljon

Cape Parrot suffering from advanced beak and feather disease. A few days after this photograph was taken a cold snap hit King William's Town that this poor parrot would not have been able to survive... (Rodnick Biljon)

Steve Boyes

Most Cape parrots infected with Pssitacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) virus die cold and alone under a roost tree. We find them weeks later during our inspections intended to find them alive... (Steve Boyes)

“uPholi” Want a Forest? Rescuing Africa’s Most Endangered Parrot from Extinction: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2011/12/16/upholi-want-a-forest-rescuing-africas-most-endangered-parrot-from-extinction/

The iziKhwenene Project: Establishing Local Communities as Forest Custodians to Save the Cape Parrot - http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/05/04/the-izikhwenene-project-establishing-local-communities-as-forest-custodians-to-save-the-cape-parrot/

Some awesome YouTube videos, interviews and articles on the Cape parrot…

Comments

  1. Khamsang Gogoi
    India
    September 15, 2012, 5:47 am

    I have never seen such photo of Cape Parrot before, amazing, so happy to see

  2. Khamsang Gogoi
    India (North Eastern States)
    September 15, 2012, 5:45 am

    I have never seen such photo of Cape Parrot before, amaizing, so happy to see

  3. Khadim Hussain Bhatti
    Pakistan
    August 21, 2012, 1:23 pm

    All pictures are very natural & so, beautiful I like it !

    Khadim Hussain Bhatti