Born Free USA Global Field Projects
In the past couple of years, authorities in the west-central African country of Cameroon have intercepted more than 1,000 endangered African grey parrots who had been taken from the wild by criminals engaged in the international pet trade. Captured in nets and stuffed into tiny crates, the terrified birds were deprived of food and water and forced to stand in their own waste. Many were trampled to death in their crowded crates, or subsequently died from the injuries they sustained in being captured and transported.
Instead of the surviving parrots being laundered back into the pet trade, they have been handed over to the Limbe Wildlife Center, where they can be rehabilitated and eventually released back into the wild. “It is crazy,” said Limbe manager Simone de Vries. “It makes you sick to see how the parrots are packed in the boxes, the weaker ones trampled by the strongest.”
African grey parrots are considered by experts to be exceptionally intelligent birds. They can imitate the calls of many other species and can associate human words with meanings — a fact that has worked to their disadvantage in that they consequently are highly valued as “pets.” They not surprisingly are mostly gray in color, measure about 13 inches from head to tail feathers, and subsist mostly on palm nuts, fruits, seeds and leafy matter. They can live up to 70 years.
Since its founding in 1993, the wildlife center in Cameroon has provided refuge and care to a variety of critically endangered wildlife species, several species of monkeys, gorillas, reptiles and birds. Its good deeds represent a vital step toward the eventual end of the exotic pet and “bushmeat” trades.
Born Free USA members have raised thousands of dollars to support the Limbe Wildlife Center and its work to rehabilitate and release captured African gray parrots back into the wild. The goal for our latest fundraising drive is $700 — $1 for each of the 700 parrots who were in Limbe’s care in late 2010. We can reach that goal if just 35 people give $20 apiece. Please help us in our partnership to return these majestic birds to the wild, where they belong.