The Zimbabwe Eight: New CITES Appendix Listings


It didn't use to matter terribly what got designated Appendix II at CITES conferences. Appendix I, though, meant the organism in question could not be commercially imported into this country. It usually followed that such taxa were in genuine danger of extinction. Appendix II status, however, often did not have any bearing on whether something was endangered or not, but instead served as a regulatory mechanism insuring documentation of international shipments and the maintenance of records for such transactions. Though there was considerable consternation following the classification of almost all parrot species as Appendix II some years ago, this did not prevent the arrival of enormous numbers of Indonesian psittacines (some of which really were gravely endangered), nor birds from Guyana, Mali, and other countries.

It was only the passage of the 1992 Wild Bird Conservation Act that gave Appendix II status real clout, as far as American aviculturists were concerned. By terminating the importation of birds on any CITES appendix, the Act not only ended the American wild parrot trade, but reduced the shipment of finches from Africa to a fraction as well. The bread-and-butter species in the West African bird trade had all been declared Appendix III for Ghana in 1976-which meant that such birds could not leave Ghana without documents. Since few finches came from Ghana, such a listing was neither here nor there-until the Wild Bird Conservation Act.

Since then, the meetings of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, held every four years, have garnered a greater degree of attention than they used to receive from American aviculturists. The results of the last one, in Harare, Zimbabwe, in June, 1997, certainly cannot he ignored. Eight species of birds, with no previous CITES listings, were added to Appendix II. Thus, under the provisions of the U.S. Wild Bird Conservation Act, their commercial importation ceased 30 days later on 18 September, 1997.

It is timely to herein briefly examine these eight species, all, as it happens, Passerines. Four species will he considered in this segment and the other four in the next issue of Watchhird.

Straw-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus zeylonicus)

It is ironic, that the one species of Bulbul, out of the 125 species in that family, chosen by the AZA Passerine Taxon Advisory Group as a candidate for a future self-sustaining population (PACT TAG, 1997) should become commercially unavailable shortly after this recommendation was published. As of 30 June, 1997, ISIS listed a total of six birds in American public collections: a male and two females at the Cleveland Zoo, and two males and a female at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. All of these are wildcaught. The only U.S. breeding of which I am aware took place at the Miami Metrozoo in 1986 (Lindholm, 1996). While it is likely there remain a number in U.S. private collections, probably the only real hope of establishing a viable U.S. population would be through a special non-commercial shipping, perhaps through an Indonesian or Malaysian zoo. At any rate, this is one species that has certainly suffered from the bird trade.

Unfortunately, international regulations won't have that much of an effect. The major volume of trade in this species is within Indonesia. Because of its....



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