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Abundance, movements and habitat use by African Grey Parrots (Psittacus erithacus) in Budongo and Mabira forest reserves, Uganda

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Populations of African Grey Parrots are threatened by increased forest loss and the pet trade. Budongo forest reserve has, for over 60 years, been subjected to selective logging. Mabira forest reserve faces human pressures characterised by extractive disturbances, and agricultural activities with increased boundary settlements. We estimated parrot populations using the 'forest limiting circumference' method, and 'encounter rate approach' for general abundance and forest type associations, respectively. Counts were conducted on flyways in the morning and evening of one day, and observations on food tree location and preference were made by forest type and time of day. Total parrot populations were estimated at 714 in Budongo and 342 in Mabira. Mean numbers of flocks observed per flyway were 4.18 ± 4.33 and 4.70 ± 2.71 for Budongo and Mabira, respectively. Similarly, flock sizes varied from 2.59 ± 2.95 in Budongo to 2.87 ± 3.06 in Mabira forest. High encounter rates were recorded in disturbed/secondary forests during foraging activities and these coincided with areas of abundant fruiting trees. Movements into and out of main forests followed regular flyways and inter-forest movements increased with forest fragmentation. However, the presence of forest strips seemed to enhance the stability of flyways. While African Grey Parrots in Budongo may benefit from its large size, the Mabira population is likely to face a greater threat of further decline. More protected areas are needed to maintain viable populations, and future research should focus on breeding ecology, population monitoring and the impact of trade activities on this species.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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