WHILE conservationists are excited over the recovery of 142 parrots from suspected traffickers, officials at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) have started feeling the burden of feeding them.
The endangered African grey parrots, which are the most traded birds globally, were intercepted at the Uganda-Congo border yesterday and have been relocated to the former Entebbe Zoo, now UWEC.
According to Noel Arinteireho, a veterinarian at the centre, six of the parrots were found dead, while 10 were injured. The remaining 126 are out of danger.
The sick parrots have been isolated from the healthy ones and are now being closely monitored.
“It is exciting to recover such clever birds from traffickers,” Arinteireho told New Vision at the centre. “But it is also demanding to rehabilitate them before releasing them back to the wilderness.”
Arinteireho added: “The parrots need food worth sh300,000 daily and the treatment is expected to cost sh2m every month. They will be quarantined for about a month as we test them for various diseases.”
Currently, the talkative parrots, which imitate human words, are being fed on sugarcane, mangoes, pineapples, boiled eggs, maize, sorghum and rice.
Julius Kyaligonza, an animal and horticulture manager, said this was the largest consignment of impounded parrots recorded at the centre.
“It has a lot to do with the insecurity and poor governance in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Traffickers easily penetrate into the country and trap the parrots,” Kasigwa said.
“This has probably gone on for a long time, but with security on high alert at the borders, it was possible to impound the consignment,” he added.
Last year, nine parrots were recovered in November from an Egyptian diplomat and another five in October from a VIP.
Both incidents took place at Entebbe International Airport. The birds were taken to the wildlife centre.
“We need support from well-wishers to feed and treat these parrots,” said Kasigwa, adding that: “The parrots are very active and we feel overwhelmed to handle such numbers.”