Cape Parrot Project needs your help

DEDICATED to conserving one of South Africa’s most endangered birds, the Cape Parrot, the Cape Parrot Project, is calling on all King William’s Town residents to keep an eye out for this colourful indigenous bird.

Picture: Joanne Stolk

The Cape Parrot is the only endemic parrot species in South Africa and with it, less than 1600 individuals left in the wild, it is vital to focus on conserving this unique bird species.

Based in Hogsback, the project was started in 2009 and aims to save the endangered bird from the brink of extinction, through research on the species, community engagement and “reforestation”.

“With so few individuals left in the wild, it is critical that we keep a close eye on their movements and habits to better understand how to conserve this bird,” said Cape Parrot Project research assistant, Dr Kate Carstens.

Cape Parrots are typically found in Afromontane forests, feeding mostly on the kernels of unripe Yellowwood fruits. Yellowwood trees are also their main nesting sites.

“A huge threat to the population is the loss of large Yellowwood trees due to historic and current logging activities. Other threats include disease, as well as poaching of wild individuals to sell on the pet trade,” said Carstens.

Picture: Joanne Stolk

The Cape Parrot also forages away from the forests and this often brings them into close association with people, as the parrots occasionally feed on exotic or indigenous trees along verges and in gardens.

The project is requesting that individuals send in any Cape Parrot sightings in and around the King William’s Town area via the Cape Parrot Project’s Facebook page in an effort to aid the project co-ordinators in keeping track of the Cape Parrot’s movements away from natural forests.

By including when and where the sighting took place, and roughly how many individual Cape Parrots were seen, residents can aid the project in their efforts to conserve the species.

“I try to update them on the number of parrots I see flying into town every morning and how many are flying back in the evenings. This gives them an indication on how many are seeking alternate food sources and also the possibility of some parrots actually roosting here overnight,” King William’s Town resident and avid bird enthusiast, Joanne Stolk said.

Stolk often also takes photographs of the parrots feeding on trees in the gardens around her guesthouse. This aids the project’s researchers in monitoring any signs of possible illness caused by malnutrition.

“Over the years I have had overseas visitors and photographers who travel to the area solely for the purpose of seeing the parrots in their natural habitat. It would be a shame to see these beautiful birds go extinct so I try to help in any way I can.”

For more information about Cape Parrots or the project, visit the project website. www.wildbirdtrust.com/cape-parrot-project/

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