The Timneh parrot (Psittacus timneh), a bird exclusive to West Africa, is at risk of loss due to climate change. The bird, formerly considered a subspecies of the grey parrot but now considered a full species, is often kept as a companion parrot. It grows to 28–33 centimetres in length and 275–375 grams in size and is intelligent and a skilled mimic.
The Timneh parrot has been undergoing population decline both through loss of its forest habitat and trapping for the international wild bird trade. Lumped with the closely related Congo parrot as the African grey, it is one of the most popular pet birds in the United States, Europe and the Middle East due to its longevity and ability to mimic human speech.
In 2007, a two-year ban on exports of Timneh parrots from Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast and Guinea was imposed by the CITES Animals Committee. The importation of wild-caught birds into the EU was banned in the same year. In spite of this ban, the exportation of Timneh birds continued, with Guinea exporting 720 birds in 2009 alone. However, the current problem facing Timneh parrots is far much greater than exportation; it is a problem facing a million other species in the wild: climate change.
Like most projections for other parts of Africa, future climate change projections for West Africa suggest there is a high chance of temperature increases. The temperature increases in West Africa are projected to be more equivocal with rainfall: diﬀerent projections indicate signiﬁcant increases or decreases in future rainfall, with little consensus among models.
A modelling study suggested that the Timneh parrot faces a marked loss of range due to climate change. The model shows that by 2050 the species will be entirely limited to Liberia - its current range extends beyond Liberia into neighbouring Sierra Leone, Guinea and Cote d"Ivoire - a loss of about 75% of its range. The bird is under much more pressure than other birds in the area due to the loss of habitat and the pet trade. Coupled with climate change, the species could be on the brink of extinction.
Header Image Credit: Phys.org