Archive for Congo

Feathered Extinction: Habitat Loss and Illegal Trade Threaten Doom for Africa’s Parrots, World Parrot Trust Africa to the Rescue!

Posted in Biodiversity, Birds with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2011 by drsteveboyes

Originally featured on 17 December, 2011.

Parrots have the largest number of threatened species of all bird families. Over 100 of the 332 known parrot species are threatened with extinction in the wild, and the declines of about 78 of these are being fueled by habitat loss and fragmentation. Roughly 39 are heavily pressured by capture and nest poaching for the wild-caught bird trade.

Photo credit: Chuck Bergman

Cavity-nesting forest specialists, like our African parrots, are particularly sensitive to forest degradation due to their reliance on large hardwood trees for sustenance and nesting opportunities. Deforestation rates in Africa are the second highest world, claiming over four million hectares of forest cover every year. Logging, wildfire, tree felling for use as fuel, the booming charcoal production industry, civil unrest, and conversion of land for agriculture and expansion of the human population are the primary forces driving the rampant destruction of critical African parrot habitat.

Continue reading

Organization of the Day: Bonobo Conservation Initiative

Posted in Organization of The Day with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2011 by Bush Warriors

Due to the hostile nature of Congo’s war-ravaged lands, the number of remaining Bonobos apes is one that is hard to pinpoint, and as a result there is no true approximation of their population size today. We are aware of one major fact, however.  These creatures are endangered and their numbers are only decreasing. Multiple threats face the bonobos. Their main habitat exists within only one country: the Democratic Republic of Congo. The wars that have faced this area have directly affected the bonobos, through bushmeat trade and the destruction of their natural habitat.

Continue reading

Live From The Congo: Despite Poacher’s Cross-Burning Death Threats, Elephant Ivory Project Team Courageously Presses On

Posted in Live From the Congo: Elephant Ivory Project with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2011 by kyledickman

‘Moses’, a suspected poacher in the Congo jungle, is burning crosses as death threats to National Park supporters, but it’s not enough to derail the Elephant Ivory Project team on to their mission to stop elephant poaching.

We just arrived this morning and I already want to leave Kisangani, a city of 700,000 in the center of Congo’s jungle. A cholera outbreak started in the city last week and left 27 dead—200 more cases have been reported. Andy and I are with Terese and John Hart, conservationists who have been working in the DRC for 30 years (check out their project Bonobos in Congo). They’ve agreed to help us plan our mission. But the question of where to start sampling elephant dung isn’t simple. The region Dr. Wasser wants us to sample most, the proposed Lomami National Park in the 25,000 square mile jungle known as TL2, has become even more dangerous.

Officials burning a poacher's camp near Obenge

Continue reading

Live From the Congo: Will A ‘Notoriously Violent’ Poacher and Rapist Hamper Elephant Ivory Project’s Efforts to Stop Poaching?

Posted in Africa: Elephants, Live From the Congo: Elephant Ivory Project with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2011 by kyledickman


It’s been a fortunate few days. We arrived in Kinshasa on Monday, exhausted from 36 hours of transit, and found the Congo just as hot as we left it two years ago. On Tuesday morning, we met with Dr. Teresa Hart, a 30-year veteran of conservation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Teresa first came to the country as a Peace Corp volunteer in 1974. She’s now in her tenth year studying bonobos, an ape found only in the DRC, in a 25,000-square mile block of forest known as TL2. The region is an elephant sanctuary on paper, but animals are disappearing there faster than ever.

“Research here leads to advocacy because it’s all being destroyed,” says Hart.

Continue reading

Live From the Congo: Elephant Ivory Project’s Journey to Stop Elephant Poaching Begins

Posted in Africa: Elephants, Live From the Congo: Elephant Ivory Project with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2011 by kyledickman

Equipment needed for expedition

Today, I’m packing. After two years in the works, we’re kicking off the Elephant Ivory Project in earnest on Sunday morning, when Andy Maser and I fly to Kinshasa–the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)–with a case of collection vials and the goal of saving a species.  Here’s the back story: Continue reading

Organization of the Day: J.A.C.K.

Posted in Organization of The Day with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2011 by Dori G

In 1960 the estimated population of chimpanzees was estimated at around one million individuals. Today the estimates have been dramatically reduced to 172,000 to 300,000 remaining, a decline of on the scale of 70-83%. Roughly 40% of this population is living within the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), an area where conservation efforts are greatly limited because its dangerous, war-torn conditions. The fact that a large portion of the chimp population inhabits the DRC makes this area essential for targeting conservation efforts in order to save this species. Chimpanzees there are being poached and removed live from their habitat to be sold in the black market for bushmeat and other illegal purposes like pet trade. Infant chimps are highly valuable in the pet trade as they are more manageable at that age. As they reach sexual maturity, their behavior becomes unmanageable and dangerous, as hormones fuel their now aggressive behaviors.

Chimpanzees are a highly social creature, relying on their tight social group to survive and aggressively protect their young. Thus capturing an infant is dangerous and difficult, and it is estimated that ten adult chimps have been killed for every one infant that has been captured or orphaned due to poaching activities. Immediate action is needed to prevent the extinction of this species. Founded in 2006 by Franck and Roxanne Chantereau, the self-funded Jeunes Animaux Confisqués au Katanga (J.A.C.K.) has taken a brave stand and created a protected refuge in Lubumbashi for chimps confiscated by DRC authorities. The Chantereaus have been doing their best to monitor the chimpanzees in the Lubumbashi area, and,have seen a loss in excess of 4,000 chimpanzees in Lubumbashi in the last 10 years alone. J.A.C.K also works with Congolese National Parks in hopes to eventually facilitate the return of their orphans into the wild. Wildlife conservation is not at the forefront of the minds of the povery-stricken, starved, and malnourished human population of the DRC. Their main concerns are focused on finding food by any means possible, which often includes bushmeat. In fact, their desperation might even be seen in their language, as the Swahili word for wildlife, “nyama”, also means “meat”.

Photo credit: Miriam Mannak

As a result of these conditions, J.A.C.K tries to raise awareness through educating the local people, believing conservation needs can be met through education. They have been extremely successful in their efforts with an estimated 12,000 local visitors to their facility each month, most being school children. J.A.C.K hopes their conservation efforts and messages will be carried into the future by the younger generations. The organization continues to expand, hoping to be able to develop even more educational activities within their refuge where children can view conservation videos and have a more interactive experience. Taking a stand in a place where most are too afraid to act, J.A.C.K’s efforts are nothing short of commendable. Without their sanctuary, it is certain that a far greater loss of the DRC’s invaluable chimp population would have occurred.

Photo credit: Miriam Mannak

 

To learn more, please visit their website.

 

Bookmark    and Share

Feathered Extinction: Habitat Loss and Illegal Trade Threaten Doom for Africa’s Parrots, World Parrot Trust Africa to the Rescue!

Posted in Birds, World Parrot Trust with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2010 by drsteveboyes

Parrots have the largest number of threatened species of all bird families.  Over 100 of the 332 known parrot species are threatened with extinction in the wild, and the declines of about 78 of these are being fueled by habitat loss and fragmentation.  Roughly 39 are heavily pressured by capture and nest poaching for the wild-caught bird trade.

Photo credit: Chuck Bergman

Cavity-nesting forest specialists, like our African parrots, are particularly sensitive to forest degradation due to their reliance on large hardwood trees for sustenance and nesting opportunities.  Deforestation rates in Africa are the second highest world, claiming over four million hectares of forest cover every year.  Logging, wildfire, tree felling for use as fuel, the booming charcoal production industry, civil unrest, and conversion of land for agriculture and expansion of the human population are the primary forces driving the rampant destruction of critical African parrot habitat.

Deforestation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (photo credit: Daniel Beltra)

A recent review of the Meyer’s Parrot range revealed that 15 of the 18 nations this species inhabits had undergone significant losses in forest cover.  Deforestation rates of 15% and higher were not uncommon and several countries, such as Kenya and Malawi, have less than 1% of their original forested area remaining.  Unfortunately, a lack of records over the last 30-40 years prevents us from being able to assess the effects of deforestation on bird populations.  We simply do not know how well African parrots are adapting to their rapidly changing environment.

Meyer’s Parrot (photo credit: Cyril Laubscher)

The World Parrot Trust Africa seeks to coordinate a continent-wide survey of all African parrot species over the coming years to determine which species are of immediate priority for conservation intervention.  The goal is to secure healthy populations of all African parrot species and sufficient suitable habitat, while also providing them adequate protection.

Photo credit: Steve Boyes   

Unregulated trade in African parrots peaked in the 1980s and ’90s, and still exists today.  This lucrative black market industry is fueled by profiteering middlemen who exploit wild bird populations.  In 2005, the Senegal Parrot was the most traded bird on the CITES Appendix II, with over 45,000 individuals being removed from forests each year.  In Namibia, cross-border trade in wild-caught Ruppell’s Parrots in the 1990s resulted in their disappearance from many parts of this species’ distributional range where they were once abundant. Today, African parrots remain among the most traded in the world.

Wild birds are sometimes smuggled in plastic bottles.

According to the most conservative estimates, over three million African parrots have been snatched from the wild over the last 25–30 years.  As can be seen in Table 1 (below) there are, several species, such as the African Grey Parrot, have been almost exclusively sourced from the wild over the last few decades.  Immense and insatiable demands from China, Taiwan, Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia are driving international trade in African parrots.

In South Africa, a legal loophole allows these birds to be legally imported into the country, as long as they have been checked and approved by a South African veterinarian before leaving the source country.  This allows for thousands of wild-caught African Greys to be imported into South Africa every year, from sources like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and West Africa.  Most of these parrots then enter the local market, but the best specimens are re-exported to the fast-growing markets in the Middle East and, especially, in the Far East.

African Greys seized from illegal trade (photo credit: PASA/WPT)

There are three things we need to do to protect all wild populations from the devastating impacts of this trade.  First and foremost, we must minimise the number of African parrots being taken from the wild.  Secondly, we must also support captive breeders that adhere to strict guidelines and standards concerning the animals’ care and well-being.  Finally, it is imperative that we get out into the African forests and determine whether the continued removal of parrots from their habitat poses a serious threat of extinction or if it is, in fact, sustainable.

 

Jardine’s Parrot for sale in west Africa (photo credit: Greg Shaw)

 

Africa’s parrots are charismatic, colourful, and larger than life. They have found their way into the hearts and minds of private collectors, parrot enthusiasts, and aviculturalists around the world.  Most African parrot breeders that I interact with are extremely passionate about these birds and have specialized in raising our Poicephalus parrots, Agapornis lovebirds, and the iconic African Greys.  The connection fostered between bird-keepers and captive birds can be profound, and can provide us with insights that cannot be achieved through field research.

Lillian’s Lovebird (photo credit: Dominique Schreckling)

We need to use this resource to the birds’ advantage and draw on the keepers’ passion for these animals to stimulate positive change for wild populations of African parrots. Bird-keepers and aviculturalists must realize the important role they can play in the conservation and research of the forest icons.  I would like to call upon global birdkeepers to join World Parrot Trust Africa and become part of this constructive movement towards a future that holds healthy African parrot populations in the wild, attained with the support of a well-managed captive community of feathered ambassadors around the globe.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

We, on the African continent and around the world, are the proud custodians of a unique group of parrots native to the forests and savannas of this wild and primordial continent.  We must recognise our responsibilities as stewards of these “forest ambassadors”, and take action to ensure a bright future for them.  Please help World Parrot Trust Africa support them on this rapidly changing continent.

Photo credit: Cyril Laubscher

To join the World Parrot Trust Africa, and for more information on how you can get involved in or contribute to African parrot conservation projects (e.g. Cape Parrot Project), please contact me at: boyes@worldparrottrust.org or PO Box 149, Hogsback, 5721, South Africa.

 

Learn about Bush Warriors’ alliance with World Parrot Trust by clicking here.  Together we are on a mission to raise awareness about the plight of the world’s parrots, with goal of changing the future for these majestic creatures and preventing their extinction!

Bookmark    and Share