JOHANNESBURG – An international panel on trade in wildlife products has adopted a proposal to ban international trade in gray parrots, popular pet birds known for quickly picking up human words.
The panel of CITES, or the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, decided to list the large parrot among the most endangered animals in its Appendix I during a meeting Sunday in Johannesburg.
Native to forests in African countries like Congo and Ghana, the parrot, more than 30 cm in height and characterized by a gray body and red tail, is considered to have intelligence equivalent to that of a 5-year-old human.
More than 2,400 of the birds were imported by Japan between 2010 and 2014 from Congo and elsewhere, according to the CITES database.
The species frequently appears in videos that draw hundreds of thousands of views at online video-sharing sites like YouTube, sometimes mimicking the words of comedians or conversing fluently with humans.
Tomoaki Nishihara of the Wildlife Conservation Society in Congo said the parrot is a social bird that moves in flocks in the wild, meaning that being raised alone could inflict great stress on them.
He said countries like Cameroon are still exporting the bird and many of them die during the course of capture and transportation.
“They are different from dogs and cats, which have established themselves as pets,” he said, urging people against keeping such rare animals.
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