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Timneh Parrot Psittacus timneh

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.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
Melo, M.; O'Ryan, C. 2007. Genetic differentiation between Príncipe Island and mainland populations of the Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus), and implications for conservation. Molecular Ecology 16(8): 1673-1685.

Identification
A mottled grey, medium-sized parrot. It has a large bill with a light, horn-coloured area to part of the upper mandible, and white mask enclosing a yellow eye. The tail is a dark maroon. Similar spp. P. erithacus is larger and paler grey, with a bright red tail and all-dark bill. The native ranges of the two species do not overlap, but escapes occur.

Distribution and population
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.


Population justification

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.

Trend justification
Population declines have been noted across the range. In all of these declines, trapping for the wild bird trade has been implicated, with habitat loss also having significant impacts. Gatter (1997) estimated c.1,400 birds smuggled from Cote d’Ivoire annually between 1981-1984, over 99% being P. timneh. 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, while Allport (1991) estimated that c.77% of the Upper Guinea EBA forest cover had been lost at the time of that study, and regional forest loss has continued since that date at a high rate (H. Rainey in litt. 2010). The rate of decline is hard to quantify, but given the massive level of capture for trade and the high levels of forest loss in parts of the range a decline of 30-49% in three generations (47 years) may be a conservative estimate.

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.

Threats
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 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.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

References
Allport, G. 1991. The status and conservation of threatened birds in the Upper Guinea Forest. Bird Conservation International 1: 53-74.

Anon. 2011. The Timneh Grey Parrot: a separate species in need of attention. Cyanopsitta: 7-8.

Clemmons, J. R. 2002. Status survey of the African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus timneh) and development of a management program in Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. CITES Secretariat, Geneva.

Collar, N. J. 1997. Psittacidae (Parrots). In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. (ed.), Handbook of the birds of the world, pp. 280-477. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Colston, P. R.; Curry-Lindahl, K. 1986. The birds of Mount Nimba, Liberia. British Museum (Natural History), London.

Dändliker, G. 1992. The Grey Parrot in Ghana: a population survey, a contribution to the biology of the species, a study of its commercial exploitation and management recommendations.

Dandliker, G. 1992. Le Perroquet Gris (Psittacus erithacus) en Guinée: evaluation des populations, contribution à la biologie, étude de l'exploitation commerciale et recommendations pour la gestion. Report sur le projet CITES S-30. CITES Secretariat, Geneva.

Fotso, R. 1998. Survey status of the distribution and utilization of the Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus) in Cameroon.

Gatter, W. 1997. Birds of Liberia. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.

Inskipp, T.; Broad, S.; Luxmoore, R. 1988. Significant trade in wildlife: a review of selected species in CITES Appendix II, 3: Birds. IUCN & CITES Secretariat, Cambridge, U.K.

Juniper, T.; Parr, M. 1998. Parrots: a guide to the parrots of the world. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.

UNEP-WCMC. 2005. CITES trade database.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Symes, A.

Contributors
Boyes, S., Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Gilardi, J., Lindsell, J., Michels, A., Phalan, B. & Rainey, H.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Psittacus timneh. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/11/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/11/2014.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

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Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Timneh parrot (Psittacus timneh) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Psittacidae (Parrots)
Species name author Fraser, 1844
Population size 100000-499999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 292,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species