Brutal for Red-Fronted Parrots, too.

Photo of Greys and Greens flying through a forest clearing – photo taken by TL2 team crossing the Lomami National Park in 2017.

We had just rescued a “motorcycle cargo” of African Grey parrots.  We opened the basket –One, two left the basket for the cage, but they were green.  Three, four, five… all green.   In all 51 red-fronted green parrots (Poicephalus gulielmi) left the small motorcycle basket tilting, stumbling, waddling into the larger holding cages.  One already dead parrot was left on top of a heap of shredded sugar cane and stripped palm nuts. 

Green parrots stumble out of the carrying basket.

On the 16th of July the Environmental Coordination had received this message from our community contact officer:  “This morning at Lusuna a motorbike will leave with 30 Grey parrots for Kindu.  Lusuna is 140 Km from Kindu.  They are coming from Kibombo.  Alert your colleagues at the check-points along the road.”

The red-fronted parrots at the check-point where they were confiscated.

The Coordination sent an OPJ or Judicial Police Officer to make the arrest.  Seizing cargos of grey parrots is straight-forward.  There is an 8 year old message from a past governor stating no Greys can be caught in Maniema. 

It wasn’t until after the birds were in Kindu that we realized, these weren’t Greys.  But coming all the way from Kibombo!!  They travelled 300 km or more over terrible roads…at least two nights. 

They spent at least 3 days in this closed cage on a motorcycle.

The Coordination did not hesitate:  It is the no hunting season;  trapping is hunting.  These parrots were illegal.

The first problem was where to keep them?  The conservation agency, ICCN, is responsible for birds once they are confiscated, but at their new building in Kindu, they have nothing but a narrow cement compound, barely enough to store their motorbikes.  The ICCN’s aviaries for confiscated Grey Parrots are 60 km away in Dingi.  World Parrot Trust and Lukuru Foundation, who contributed to create the Dingi Parrot Conservation Center, wanted it to be in the heart of Parrot habitat and away from the insecurity of the town of Kindu. But where could these red-fronted parrots recover before being moved to Dingi?

The holding cages with 51 green parrots in our yard as of the third week in July 2023.

We agreed to have them come to our house on the edge of Kindu with a large quiet yard. 

They were so thirsty when they first arrived. And most were missing feathers and had glue in their wings.

Several parrots arrived with broken legs, one had lost an eye. How were they captured?

Still we could not keep them long at our house….already there were rumors started  by the “enterprise” that had guaranteed these parrots to a trader in Bangladesh.  The rumors were that the Harts were “in the business”;  “the Harts were taking someone else’s parrots on the pretense of law, but planning to resell them at a huge profit.”

One of the ICCN rangers sent to protect the birds.

ICCN sent two rangers to watch them…but it did not alleviate the situation.  We kept them barely two weeks before taking them north toward Dingi in a rented dugout.

Carrying one of the holding cages down from our house to the Lualaba where a dugout waits to carry the cages up to the port near Dingi.
The first Red-fronted Greens enter the aviary at Dingi. An African Grey watches. With alarm? With curiosity?

How many green parrots have been caught and trafficked out of Maniema?  Looking at the incomplete records in the Environment Coordination there have been 3 permits for export of green parrots from Maniema Province in 2023, each for 20 parrots.  They were certainly written without ever witnessing the birds and there is no agent of the Environmental Coordination at the airport to check shipments. If, as in this basket of trafficked parrots, there were 50 or more each, 150 red-fronted parrots, at least, already left Maniema.

Congo has a CITES quota to export 450 green parrots per year.  (CITES is the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species) This quota is obviously not being rigorously followed!  Maniema is one of 26 provinces and at least 6, maybe 8 have green parrots. 

What must be done :  Develop a new message to be issued by the current  governor making it illegal to catch and traffic green parrots as well as grey parrots.  Then, if possible, we should get this message backed by more permanent legislation.

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