African Grey Parrot conservation center Uganda

African grey parrot

A new African Grey Parrot conservation center has opened at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre in Entebbe. The facility was established with funding from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Chubu University in Japan. Its primary purpose is to support research on African gray parrots, promote eco-tourism, and contribute to education and the local economy.

Many people’s interactions with parrots have been limited to seeing them in cages. Parrots and parakeets are popular pets in households worldwide because of their unique ability to mimic sounds and their colorful plumage. However, the demand for these intelligent birds has led to widespread capture and captive breeding to supply the global pet market.

Exotic species like the African gray parrot are particularly sought after due to their high intelligence, which ranks among the highest in the animal kingdom, alongside apes and cetaceans. Their remarkable ability to mimic voices and solve problems has contributed to their popularity.

The conservation center aims to raise awareness about the importance of preserving African gray parrots and their natural habitat. Through research, education, and eco-tourism initiatives, it seeks to promote conservation efforts and ensure the long-term survival of these fascinating birds.

The African gray parrot, also known as the “world’s most traded bird,” has been listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to a significant decline in numbers, particularly in western and central African rainforests, largely because of poaching. Uganda, with its tropical forests, is one of the habitats for these parrots. Since the 1970s, over 1.2 million African gray parrots have been traded globally.

The hunting of African grays from the wild has severely harmed their population. Additionally, the extensive trade has raised concerns about biosecurity. Recently, the Wildlife Trust of India’s enforcement team uncovered an illegal trade racket involving African gray parrots. This highlights the urgent need for conservation efforts to protect these birds and their habitats.

According to the UWEC Manager for Education and Information, the new facility will enhance the center’s efforts to become a focal point for African gray parrot conservation. Additionally, it will serve as a training center for communities to learn about conserving this endangered bird species.

This represents a modern approach to tourism, aiming to benefit local communities through various livelihood enterprises such as homestays, birding, and forest walks, which are popular among tourists visiting bird communities. The goal is to empower communities residing in areas where these parrots are found. Islands like Ngamba and Koome are expected to benefit from these initiatives.

In addition to the African gray parrot, the Uganda Wildlife Education and Conservation Center is home to a variety of birds. These include the African fish eagle, Pink-backed Pelican, peacock, ostrich, and gray crowned crane.