e-space
Manchester Metropolitan University's Research Repository

Trade in African Grey Parrots for Belief-Based Use: Insights From West Africa's Largest Traditional Medicine Market

Assou, Délagnon and Elwin, Angie and Norrey, John and Coulthard, Emma and Megson, David and Ronfot, Delphine and Auliya, Mark and Segniagbeto, Gabriel H and Martin, Rowan O and D'Cruze, Neil (2021) Trade in African Grey Parrots for Belief-Based Use: Insights From West Africa's Largest Traditional Medicine Market. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 9.

[img]
Preview

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB) | Preview

Abstract

Over 1.2 million wild-sourced African Grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus) have reportedly been traded internationally since the 1970s, the majority of which were taken from the wild with serious implications for conservation, animal welfare, and biosecurity. While international trade has mostly been for the pet trade, in some West African countries, Grey parrots are also consumed for belief-based use. However, to date there has been little research into the scale and scope of this trade and its drivers. Here, we explore multiple facets of the trade in Grey parrots for belief-based use through interviews with five vendors at the largest “fetish” market of West Africa in Togo. We focus on understanding the purpose of medicinal and spiritual use of Grey parrots, and the socio-economic dimensions of this trade. Parrot heads were the most valuable and most frequently traded body part over the last year (2017), sold primarily for the medicinal purpose of helping to “improve memory.” Feathers were the most common transaction for spiritual use, largely purchased for “attracting clients”, “love”, and to “help with divorce”. Whole parrots and parrot heads had also been traded for spiritual use, mainly for “good luck” and “protection from witchcraft”. Our findings suggest ~900 Grey parrots were traded over the past 10 years in the market. Most vendors perceived an increase in the rarity of Grey parrot body parts over the past 5 years, which may reflect increased restrictions on international trade and/or the deteriorating state of wild populations. Although the sale of feathers collected from beneath roosting sites does not negatively impact wild populations, the relatively low value of these parts compared with other parrot derivatives and live parrots, suggests there may be minimal opportunity to leverage market mechanisms to protect wild populations through sustainable use. We identify a need for further investigations to examine the complex relationship between capture to supply the international pet market, a process in which many parrots die, and the local trade in belief-based use of derivatives.

Impact and Reach

Statistics

Downloads
Activity Overview
19Downloads
87Hits

Additional statistics for this dataset are available via IRStats2.

Altmetric

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item