Date of Award

12-2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Wildlife and Fisheries Biology

Advisor

Bowerman, William W.

Committee Member

Hall , Karen C.

Committee Member

Smathers Jr. , Webb M.

Abstract

ABSTRACT
Wildlife populations worldwide are being negatively affected by the illegal wildlife trade. The severity of the impact to both Sub-Saharan vultures and African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus) (AGP) populations are explored in this thesis. Many species of Sub-Saharan vultures are used in the traditional medicinal trade. Previous studies have found that vultures have mystical powers attributed to them due to their keen
ability to find food. AGP's are sought after for international trade due to their ability to mimic human vocabularies and for their aesthetic beauty.
Due to the illegal, secret, and illusive nature of this trade, the monetary value and direct impact to wild Sub-Saharan vulture and AGP populations is difficult to quantify. A synthesis of existing research relating to these two subjects was conducted to examine the current status of these species, examine the impacts of this trade on these species, and to review existing regulation for its efficacy in establishing and maintaining the sustainable use of these species.
National regulation of vulture use in the traditional medicinal trade is failing at many different levels. There is corruption and those responsible for enforcing the laws are poorly trained. The framework for International regulation of trade in AGPs has been implemented by The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), but CITES relies on their members to enact and enforce national regulations for the survival of AGP populations. Previous studies have shown there are many flaws in this system of regulation also. Many countries in Africa lack sound ecological data for these species. Without knowing even the most basic information such as population, effective quotas for sustainable trade in AGPs cannot be established.
Management of populations of these species needs to include working with local people. Many people in Africa rely on traditional medicine as their primary source of healthcare. Further research will need to include working with the healers and users of the medicinal trade if sustainable harvest is to succeed. Loss of vulture populations could have dire impacts on the healer's ability to heal their patients. Poacher's of AGPs are often living at poverty level; just trying to make a living. Without addressing this issue, implementing regulation for the survival of AGPs will not be effective.
The illegal trade in Sub-Saharan vultures for the medicinal trade, and international trade of AGPs, is negatively impacting wild populations of these species. Without better implementation and regulation at the local, National, and International levels, these species could become extirpated or extinct.

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