World Parrot Trust
In 1997 WPT published 'A Manifesto for Aviculture'. This document, which was sent to all parrot range countries and government institutions, speaks out strongly for Aviculture, describing it as 'an enthralling and decent special interest, one that can last a life-time, and can be shared with family, friends and fellow enthusiasts.' The Manifesto goes on to promote the concept of 'Responsible Aviculture', which now receives much support in the parrot world. Printed Copies can be obtained from our World Parrot Trust United Kingdom office.
A Manifesto for Aviculture
Published by The World Parrot Trust on behalf of many millions of parrot aviculturist's and pet owners worldwide, and dispatched to the appropriate authorities in every major country where parrots live in the wild or are kept as pets or breeding birds.
This manifesto will also be sent to relevant international bodies and institutions, and to the media. Comments are invited from interested parties.
A brief history of Aviculture
This activity is almost as old as mankind itself. We have confined poultry, pigeons and other birds for domestic and commercial reasons, and kept songbirds and other caged birds in our homes. So the keeping of birds, often called 'Aviculture', is by no means a modern development.
Until the last thirty years, the hobby of bird-keeping centered on low-cost birds such as canaries, fancy pigeons, and domestic strains of budgerigar. What is comparatively new is the discovery that the successful breeding in captivity of some birds, primarily members of the parrot family, can provide a fascinating hobby that also brings a profit opportunity. This has caused a great expansion of interest in Aviculture, and an increasing demand for the importation of wild-caught parrots into many prosperous societies. With the ready availability of air transport, large numbers of parrots were removed from the wild, reaching a peak in the years 1970 to 1990.
Many species were put at risk, and not surprisingly this traffic was opposed by concerned nations and conservation bodies. All but two common species of parrot are now covered by CITES, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna. Together with national legislation and controls, this convention has gone some way to reduce this threat to the survival of parrots in the wild.
Every aviculturist is a lover of nature, captivated by the beauty and character of the birds he or she keeps. The well-being of the birds themselves lies at the heart of the hobby, and the devotion of bird keepers to their charges is usually plain to see. To succeed in the captive breeding of exotic birds requires study, dedication, intelligence, persistence, a natural understanding for wildlife, financial investment, and endless hard work. For the majority of aviculturist's today, it remains an enthralling and decent special interest, one that can last a life-time, and be shared with family, friends, and fellow enthusiasts.
It is unfortunate that within this community, as in any other group, there are a few individuals whose activities tarnish the reputation of the many. In the apicultural world there are some who are not genuinely concerned about the welfare of birds, and who are prepared to act illegally, either for profit or to satisfy the 'collecting mania' that can sometimes be seen. These are the smugglers, many of whom have recently been brought to justice.
Aviculture disclaims these people. They are not representative of our community. We also reject those who fail to give adequate care to their birds, or who treat fellow hobbyists unfairly.
In recent years much progress has been made in the science of Aviculture, and in particular the veterinary care of birds. Most aviculturist's have help of an expert avian vet, and there is a wealth of publications on every aspect of the hobby.
What is more, many apicultural organizations now fund conservation projects for parrots in the wild, and these contributions will undoubtedly increase.
When The World Parrot Trust was launched in 1989, one of its stated aims was to see the importation of wild-caught parrots for the pet trade replaced by aviary-bred birds. This aim was derided by some, and strongly opposed by some commercial elements. Now, however, virtually every individual and organization in our field has accepted the correctness of that aim. Attitudes are changing fast, and illegality or excessive exploitation hold little attraction for aviculturist's in general.
The concept of 'responsible Aviculture', conceived and promoted by The World Parrot Trust, is gaining ground, encouraging high standards in apicultural practice, and the need to accept a degree of responsibility for the conservation of wild populations, from which all captive birds have sprung.
With our support groups in 12 countries around the world, we are able to detect a growing understanding of the need to improve the way Aviculture is perceived, both by the general public and by regulatory authorities.
In our opinion, this is a time for restraint in imposing further restrictions on 'responsible Aviculture'.
We fully accept that the international community and every individual country has the right to regulate the movement and keeping of wildlife, in the interests of human health, avian welfare, and conservation. Like all citizens, aviculturist's simply ask that regulations be reasonable, easy to understand and comply with, and operated with speed and consistency. We therefore propose the following:-
Enforce CITES effectively in every country.
Some countries have yet to join the convention, while others have signed up to CITES but do not implement it effectively.
Use CITES to stop the mass importation of birds into developed countries.
Large numbers of parrots are still being exported from Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Ensure that legal trade is sustainable, and has regard for avian welfare.
Some countries still allow export quotas that lack scientific justification.
Ensure that departments responsible for wildlife regulation act efficiently.
In some countries unreasonable delays occur in processing documents.
Do not create new difficulties for Aviculture.
Most aviculturist's are simple hobbyists, not major entrepreneurs. Do not burden them with unnecessary paperwork. Recognize and reward their contribution to parrot conservation, as continuing success in aviary-breeding reduces the demand for wild-caught birds.
Continue efforts to combat illegal activities.
No responsible aviculturist condones illegal activities of any kind, or examples of cruelty or incompetence in the keeping of birds.
Aviculturist's are very approachable people, and there are a number of organizations that represent them well. Please consult with them, and arrive at practical solutions that will ensure the long-term health of this commendable hobby.
Aviculture is an ancient and natural human pastime which gives pleasure to millions of people.
This fulfilling hobby has been compromised by the actions of a small minority.
Attitudes in Aviculture are changing, will lead to the correction of past errors, and the further development of 'responsible Aviculture'.
Authorities should recognize the legitimate aspirations of legitimate aviculturist's, and should work with them to arrive at mutually acceptable regulations.
Please direct all comments and enquiries to our World Parrot Trust United Kingdom office.