Confounding Rules Can Hinder Conservation: Disparities in Law Regulation on Domestic and International Parrot Trade within and among Neotropical Countries

Animals (Basel). 2022 May 12;12(10):1244. doi: 10.3390/ani12101244.


Wildlife trade is a major driver of biodiversity loss worldwide. To regulate its impact, laws and regulations have been implemented at the international and national scales. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has regulated the international legal trade since 1975. However, an important volume of illegal trade-mainly within countries-continues to threaten several vertebrate groups, which could be due to a lack of specific legislation or enforcement of existing regulations. Our aim was to gain a more accurate picture of poaching and legal possession of native parrots as pets in the Neotropics, where illegal domestic trade is currently widespread. We conducted a systematic search of the laws of each of the 50 countries and overseas territories, taking into account their year of implementation and whether the capture, possession and/or sale of parrots is permitted. We compared this information with legal exports reported by CITES to assess differences between the enforcement of international and national trade regulations. We found that only two countries (Guyana and Suriname) currently allow the capture, trade and possession of native parrots, while Peru allowed international legal trade until recently. The other countries have banned parrot trade from years to decades ago. However, the timing of implementation of international and national trade regulations varied greatly between countries, with half of them continuing to export parrots legally years or decades after banning domestic trade. The confusion created by this complex legal system may have hindered the adoption of conservation measures, allowing poaching, keeping and trade of protected species within and between neighboring countries. Most countries legally exported Neotropical parrot species which were not native to those countries, indicating that trans-border smuggling often occurred between neighboring countries prior to their legal exportations, and that this illicit activity continues for the domestic trade. Governments are urged to effectively implement current legislation that prohibits the trapping and domestic trade of native parrots, but also to develop coordinated alliances and efforts to halt illegal trade among them. Otherwise, illegal trade will continue to erode the already threatened populations of a large number of parrot species across the Neotropics.

PMID:35625090 | PMC:PMC9137931 | DOI:10.3390/ani12101244