Abstract:

The rare and endangered Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus) needs priority status with respect to its taxonomy and conservation biology.

Mike R Perrin¹, Michael Cunningham²

¹Research Centre for African Parrot Conservation, University of KwaZulu-Natal
²Department of Genetics, University of Pretoria.

Clancey first suggested, in a short note, that the Cape Parrot was a species distinct form the Brown-headed Parrot and the Grey-headed Parrot. This was supported by Wirminghaus’s field and museum study and corroborated by Perrin in a review, which, unfortunately, contained little molecular systematic information.  The initial summary data using a 550bp fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene suggested that the Cape Parrot could be regarded as an Evolutionary Significant Unit, but more investigation was necessary.  Nevertheless, the comparative ecological and behavioural data of Wirminghaus (Cape Parrot) and Symes (Grey-headed Parrot) strongly supported taxonomic division. (In parapatry-syntopy, the two taxa are separated altitudinally and breed at different seasons).  While this was accepted by many ornithologists and authors in Africa, BirdLife International remained unconvinced, which hindered categorisation of the species as an IUCN Appendix 1 species. This prevented further funding and research, and conservation action, despite the activity of the Cape Parrot Working Group, the Cape Parrot Trust and SANBI. More recent DNA studies using microsatellites further support the separation of the two taxa. Therefore, the Cape Parrot should receive considerably greater conservation attention than at present, including CITES Appendix 1 status.

Presentation Topic

The rare and endangered Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus) needs priority status with respect to its taxonomy and conservation biology.

 

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Research Centre for African Parrot Conservation, University of KwaZulu-Natal

 

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