Timneh parrots (Psittacus timneh formerly Psittacus erithacus timneh) have long been subject to high levels of trapping for the pet trade, leading to dramatic declines in populations.
Endemic to the western parts of the moist Upper Guinea forests and bordering savannas, their historic range extends from the Bijagós islands of Guinea-Bissau eastwards through southern Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire. Loss of forest in these areas has compounded the impact of trade, leading to the fragmentation of existing populations. In 2012, concerns over declining populations prompted their addition to the IUCN Red-List of Threatened Species™.
Although no exports of wild Timneh parrots are currently permitted under CITES, trapping for the international trade continues. There is a need to protect known breeding populations, create conditions for the effective enforcement of wildlife trade laws, and generate knowledge on the status of wild populations.
This project uses a multi-faceted approach to address the complex issues that surround wildlife trade in West Africa. Working with multiple local and international partners the project will:
1) Monitor and protect key breeding populations by working with local communities in Guinea-Bissau. Efforts focusing on the João Vieira - Poilã National Park within the Bijagós islands UNESCO Biosphere reserve involve employing former parrot trappers to monitor nests during the breeding season. This approach will provide alternative employment for key community members and a means through which conservation messages can be locally disseminated.
2) Investigate illegal trade in regional hubs in Guinea and Senegal to identify appropriate strategies to tackle illegal trade. Support will be provided for the enforcement of local wildlife trade laws by working with government departments and NGOs to develop approaches for the management of confiscated birds. Through these actions commodity chains will be disrupted, reducing access to markets throughout the region and internationally.
3) Generate data on the basic biology of Timneh parrots and the status of lesser-known populations in Guinea-Bissau. This information will improve the scientific basis for conservation actions and feed into global assessments of the status of the species.
The project is expected to reduce rates of trapping in the Bijagós islands, improve attitudes to conservation among local communities, curtail trade in regional hubs and improve the scientific basis for conservation actions.