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Psittacus timneh

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA AVES PSITTACIFORMES PSITTACIDAE

Scientific Name: Psittacus timneh
Species Authority: Fraser, 1844
Common Name(s):
English Timneh Parrot
Taxonomic Notes: The West African form timneh of Grey Parrot P. erithacus shows substantial morphological differences from erithacus, and the two forms have an allopatric distribution: the treatment of the two as separate species has been accepted by the BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2abcd+3bcd+4abcd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2013-11-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Boyes, S., Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Gilardi, J., Lindsell, J., Michels, A., Phalan, B. & Rainey, H.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Symes, A.
Justification:
This newly-split species is listed as Vulnerable because it is subject to heavy trapping pressure across much of its range. In combination with the high rate of ongoing habitat loss, the species is therefore suspected to be declining rapidly over three generations (47 years). Better data on the population size and extent of capture for trade may lead to its further uplisting in future.

History:
2012 Vulnerable

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Psittacus timneh, which was formerly considered conspecific with P. erithacus, is endemic to the western parts of the moist Upper Guinea forests and bordering savannas of West Africa, from Guinea-Bissau east through Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and southern Mali east to at least 70 km east of the Bandama River in Côte d'Ivoire. Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia are thought to hold the largest populations, which were estimated at 54,000-130,000 and 50,000-100,000 individuals respectively by Dändliker (1992), who gave a total population estimate of c.120,000-259,000 individuals in 1992. It appears to have disappeared completely from the forests on and near Mt Nimba in Nimba County, Liberia; surveys between 2008-2011 in the East Nimba Nature Reserve and nearby forest failed to find the species, and no there was no indication from locals that they have been present in recent times (B. Phalan and F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012). The species was surprisingly scarce in the Nimba area as early as the 1970s (Colston & Curry-Lindahl 1986). Gatter (1997) estimated c.1,400 birds smuggled from Cote d’Ivoire annually between 1981-1984, over 99% being P. timneh. In the Gola Forest area in Sierra Leone it persists but never seems to have been particularly abundant, with groups rarely reaching double figures (J. Lindsell and F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012). Trapping for the wild bird trade and high rates of forest habitat loss are presumed to be driving rapid declines throughout the range.

Countries:
Native:
Côte d'Ivoire; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Liberia; Mali; Sierra Leone
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:

Based on the estimated density of the species and P. erithacus in Ghana and Guinea, Dändliker (1992) calculated population estimates for Côte d'Ivoire (54,000-130,000 individuals), Liberia (50,000-100,000), Sierra Leone (11,000-18,000), Guinea (5,000-10,000) and Guinea-Bissau (100-1,000). These estimates have been used as the basis for setting export quotas in the past. Assuming any population in southern Mali to be insignificant, this gives a total estimate of c.120,000-259,000 individuals in 1992, which may now be lower if the species is declining rapidly. Gatter (1997) estimated significantly higher density of two breeding pairs / km2 in logged forest north of Zwedru, Liberia, however, thus the likely total population remains highly uncertain. The population is placed in the band 100,000-499,999 mature individuals in the absence of further data.

Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Although typically inhabiting dense forest, they are commonly observed at forest edges, clearings, gallery forest, mangroves, wooded savannah, cultivated areas, and even gardens (Juniper and Parr 1998), but it is not clear whether these are self-sustaining populations. May make seasonal movements out of the driest parts of the range in the dry season.

Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species has been heavily traded: during 1994-2003, over 359,000 wild-caught individuals (combined total of erithacus and timneh, the majority erithacus) were reportedly exported from range states (UNEP-WCMC CITES Trade Database, October 2005). Together with P. erithacus, it is one of the most popular avian pets in Europe, the United States, and the Middle East due to its longevity and unparalleled ability to mimic human speech and other sounds. While there has been some domestic demand within range states, most impacts seem to be due to international trade, probably owing to the high value of this species. The Animals Committee of CITES imposed a two-year ban from January 2007 on exports of timneh from four West African countries (Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea), and the importation of wild-caught birds into the EU was prohibited in 2007, leading to a fall in exports of erithacus and timneh, but the number of exportations rose once again in 2008 and 2009 (Anon 2011). In 2009 Guinea exported 720 timneh, despite having a quota of zero (Anon 2011). Legal trade as monitored by CITES may represent only a proportion of the total numbers captured from the wild. Habitat loss is undoubtedly having significant impacts throughout the range. Allport (1991) estimated that c.77% of the Upper Guinea EBA forest cover had been lost at the time of that study. Regional forest loss has continued since that date at a high rate (H. Rainey in litt. 2010). In Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, preferred species of nesting trees are also preferred timber species (Clemmons 2003).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
P. erithacus, prior to the split of timneh, was put on CITES Appendix II with all Psittaciformes in 1981 at the request of Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Due to concern about the effects of the large numbers of this species traded, it was the subject of a CITES significant trade review, in which it was listed as of "possible concern" (Inskipp et al. 1988). The Animals Committee of CITES imposed a two-year ban from January 2007 on exports of timneh from four West African countries (Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea), and the importation of wild-caught birds into the EU was prohibited in 2007 (Anon 2011). In 2009 Guinea exported 720 timneh, despite having a quota of 0 (Anon 2011). Legal trade as monitored by CITES may represent only a small proportion of the total numbers captured from the wild. The species occurs in a number of protected areas. A PhD study assessing distribution, abundance and impacts of trade and habitat loss for timneh was due to begin in 2011 (Anon 2011).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Ensure that proposed trade restrictions are implemented. Monitor wild populations to determine ongoing trends.


Citation: BirdLife International 2013. Psittacus timneh. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 24 October 2014.
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