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Congo Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus densities in oil palm plantation, agroforestry mosaic and protected forest in Southwest Cameroon

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The Congo Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus has experienced a severe population breakdown in recent decades. The rainforests of the Korup region in Southwest Cameroon may harbour a large population of this species, but density and population estimates from this area remain controversial. Before the 2016 breeding season, we surveyed Grey Parrots along transects (621.1 km survey effort) in three adjacent landscape types: primary forest in Korup National Park (KNP), smallholder agroforestry matrix (AFM), and industrial oil palm plantation (OPP). We also collected information on the trees used for nesting, feeding and roosting. Using Distance analysis, we estimated relatively low densities of stationary flocks, ranging from 0.30 ind./km2 in KNP, over 0.82 ind./km2 in OPP to 2.70 ind./km2 in the AFM. Parrots were observed feeding or roosting in 17 tree species, of which 15 were located in AFM alone. Feeding was most often observed on cultivated Elaeis guineensis and Dacryodes edulis, but never in maize. The detected parrot densities probably reflect declines within the period 2008–2016, suggesting that the species’ recent IUCN uplisting to ‘Endangered’ and transfer to CITES Appendix I was indeed justified. Our results also suggest that traditional smallholder agroforestry may play a role in habitat conservation strategies, since these forms of cultivation may maintain important breeding and feeding opportunities for Congo Grey Parrots.


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