Uganda Wildlife Authority impounds 25 parrots at Uganda-Congo border

Some of the African grey parrots which were rescued from a smuggler at the Uganda-DR Congo border.

The 21 grey parrots and four brown-necked ones, which were reportedly being smuggled to DR Congo, were impounded at Mpondwe border post.

Officials from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in conjunction with Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) have impounded 25 young parrots that were being smuggled out of the country.

According to the UWA, the birds, that include 21 grey parrots and four brown-necked ones, were being smuggled to the DR Congo.

The parrots were reportedly captured from Queen Elizabeth National Park. They were impounded last week at Mpondwe border post on the Uganda-DR Congo border.

The rescue

“Immigrations and security people suspected a box to be contraband. They opened it and found smuggled parrots but the owner had since fled and abandoned his/her loot,” Mr. John Makombo, the UWA conservation director told the Daily Monitor yesterday.

Mr. Makombo said the parrots were taken to Uganda Wildlife Educational Centre (UWEC) for rehabilitation before being released back to the wild. UWEC spokesperson Belinda Atim said the parrots reached the center in a very poor condition and one of them had died. “They squeeze them in small boxes and were being fed them on fermented stuff,” she said.

Ms. Atim added that they were still closely monitoring the impounded parrots in a quarantine enclosure for 30 days before releasing them back into the wild.

Trade-in African grey parrots is a lucrative business as it fetches between $1500 to $4000 (about Shs 3.9 million to Shs10 million) on the international market. A total of 150 African grey parrots were recently impounded in Kasese District on the Uganda-Congo border.

Uganda is regarded as Africa’s best birding destination for birders and other nature enthusiasts. With over 1,000 species of birds mainly in large well-protected wilderness areas, a birding trip to Uganda is the most leisurely in the east and central tropical birding destinations. Uganda has more bird species per square kilometer than any other country in Africa. Roughly the same size as the UK, Uganda can boast a national list of more than 1008 species (Uganda Bird Atlas by Cars well et al, 2005). This figure represents more than half the bird species that can be found in the whole of Africa. The key to Uganda’s diversity is its variety of habitats, which include arid, semi-dessert, savannahs, lowland and montane rainforests, wetlands, volcanoes, and an Afro-alpine zone. These are all interesting habitats in terms of structure and content. So it would be interesting to know how many species out of the total country list could be recorded on a 1day list if there was to be birding in all these habitat types on that particular day.

Birds are an important part of our ecosystems. They are universal, penetrating the remotest deserts, oceans and mountains on earth. They are numerous, widely distributed, easily observed, and form a vital part of our natural heritage. In Uganda, there are over 1,000 species of birds which is almost the same number as the whole of Europe supports. Uganda has more species than any other country in Africa and compares very well with the top countries in South America. However, very few Ugandans are aware of this rich diversity of birds present in this country. For this reason, African Jungle Adventure would like to improve this awareness through the Uganda birding expeditions and also to promote avi-conservation and avi-tourism.