International parrot trade

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Captive Blue-cheeked Amazon Parrots

The international trade in parrots is a lucrative enterprise, and forms an important part of the international wildlife trade. As parrots have become increasingly endangered, many countries have placed restrictions on the trade and/or prohibited the trade altogether. Despite the restriction on trade in many countries however, the market still operates both legally and illegally.

Approximately 2,600 of the more than 9,600 species of birds in existence are subject to trade,[1]:3 and 20% of these species belong to the order Psittaciformes (parrots).[1]:3 In 2009, 3.9% of households in the United States owned birds, which equated to 11,199,000 pet birds in total,[2] and 75% of these belonged to the Psittaciforme order.[2]:77

International trade[edit]

Top exporters[edit]

The greatest number of parrots came from Latin American countries (mostly Guyana, Suriname and Argentina).[3] The top bird exporting countries are:

Top importers[edit]

The largest importers of parrots are:[1]

Prior to 1992, the United States was the largest importer, but after the Wild Bird Conservation Act was passed in 1992, the European Union emerged as the leading importer.[1] In the 2000-2003 period, the EU imported 2.8 million wild bird species, accounting for 93% of imports worldwide.[1]

The chart below graphs the gross exports of True Parrots, belonging to the genus Psittacidae, a sub-taxa of the Psittiforme order.

Gross exports of True Parrots[5]

However, the statistics greatly underestimate the quantity of birds channeled into the pet trade. Mortalities that occur prior to export are excluded.[1] An estimated 60% of the birds taken from the wild for trade may perish before reaching the market and many die in transport.[6]

Trade in the United States[edit]

United States Parrot Trade[7]

Legal rules and restrictions regarding Psittacidae trade[edit]

The Wild Bird Conservation Act (WBCA)[8] was enacted on October 23, 1992 to protect exotic bird species from international trade. The Act maintains that wild-caught birds may only be imported into the United States if they are produced in accordance with service-approved management plans for sustainable use of the species.[7] After the WBCA, the number of parrots imported in the US declined from over 100,000 annually to only hundreds annually.[3]

The European Union placed a temporary ban on wild bird imports in October 2005 after imported birds died from the H5N1 bird flu. The ban was made permanent in 2007, allowing only captive-bred birds from approved countries to be imported.[9]

The Convention on International Trade protects certain endangered species by law, and prohibits them from being traded internationally. Several True Parrots from the Ara genus (Great Green Macaw, Blue-throated Macaw, Scarlet Macaw, Military Macaw), are all protected under Appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.[10]

Illegal market[edit]

Smuggling reached its peak in the 1980s when an estimated 50,000 to 150,000 neotropical parrots were smuggled annually into the United States.[11]

Sample market prices[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f FAO. 2011. Trade in Wild Birds and Related Bird Movements in Latin America and the Caribbean Animal Production and Health Paper No. 166. Rome.
  2. ^ a b Weston, M.K.; Memon, M.A. (2009). "The Illegal Parrot Trade in Latin America and its Consequences to Parrot Nutrition, Health and Conservation" (PDF). Bird Populations (The Institute for Bird Populations) 9: 76–83. 
  3. ^ a b Reynolds, John D. (2001). Conservation of Exploited Species. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-78733-8. 
  4. ^ Tidemann, Sonia (2009). Ethno-ornithology: Birds, Indigenous Peoples, Culture and Society (PDF). Earthscan. p. 82. ISBN 978-1-84407-783-0. 
  5. ^ "CITES trade database". Retrieved 2011-11-15.  Data excludes some genera in the Psittacidae family, including Pesoporous, Poicephalus, Tangnathus, Strigops, Rhynchopsitta, Purpureicephalus, Psittrichus, Psittinus, Triclaria, and Touit.
  6. ^ Inigo, E.; Ramos, M. (1991). "The Psittacine Trade in Mexico". In Robinson, John G.; Redford, Kent H. Neotropical Wildlife Use and Conservation. The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-72258-0. 
  7. ^ a b "HTS – 0106320000: General Customs Value by General Customs Value for ALL Countries.", USITC Interactive Tariff and Trade Database, Accessed November 2011
  8. ^ "Wild Bird Conservation Act". US Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 21 February 2012. 
  9. ^ "EU to ban imports of wild birds". BBC News. 11 January 2007. 
  10. ^ “Appendices 1,2, and 3” Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, 2010
  11. ^ a b Guzman, Juan Carlos Cantu; Sanchez, Saldana Maria Elena; Grosselet, Manuel; Gamez, Jesus Siliva (2007). The Illegal Parrot Trade in Mexico (PDF) (Report). Mexico: Defenders of Wildlife. p. 9. 
  12. ^ a b Sun Wyler, Liana; Sheikh, Pervaze A. (2008). International Illegal Trade in Wildlife: Threats and U.S. Policy (PDF) (Report). Congressional Research Service. p. CRS-7. 
  13. ^ Alacs, Erika; Georges, Arthur (2008). "Wildlife across our borders: a review of the illegal trade in Australia". Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences. 
  14. ^ Roe, Dilys; Mulliken, Teresa; Milledge, Simon; Mremi, Josephine; Mosha, Simon; Grieg-Gran, Maryanne. Making a Killing or Making a Living: Wildlife Trade, Trade Controls, and Rural Livelihoods (PDF) (Report). International Institute for Environment and Development. p. 12. Biodiversity and Livelihoods Issues No. 6. 

See also[edit]