South Africa’s Cape parrot needs more yellowwood trees to survive.
by David Braun
The green and gold Cape parrot (Poicephalus robustus) is one of the most endangered parrots in the world.
The only parrot endemic to South Africa, fewer than a thousand individuals survive in the last patches of its dwindling habitat of yellowwood forest.
As the Cape parrot’s yellowwood fruit resource disappears, the bird has changed its diet—for example, turning to pecan trees—bust it’s not always able to find sufficiently wholesome food. Malnutrition makes it more susceptible to a deadly virus that in some years has infected as much as 100 percent of the birds.
National Geographic Emerging Explorer Steve Boyes is trying to pull the Cape parrot back from the brink of oblivion.
Boyes has a plan to restore the endemic yellowwood forests that once flourished across a wide swath of the southern tip of Africa, giving the parrots and other species that depend on the trees a chance to rebound. The plan involves many local communities that also stand to benefit from the return of the forests. It’s a strategy in which villagers, parrots, and yellowwood trees share a healthy ecosystem for the benefit of all…