PBFD, a serious threat for Cape Parrots in South Africa

May 22nd, 2015 | by LubosTomiska
PBFD, a serious threat for Cape Parrots in South Africa

The Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus) represents the most endangered parrot in South Africa (less than 1200 individuals in 2010). One of the causes which affects the wild population decline is the Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD). This disease is spread all over the world and kill large amounts of parrots in captivity or in the wild every year. The Cape Parrot Project which tries to save wild Cape parrots have launched in 2009. At that time researchers found out that PBFD is a serious threat for this species. According to the field research in the same year about 60% of wild parrots of this species were infected by PBFD.



In general, this disease mostly affects young, stressed or malnoutrished individuals. When we consider the current situation of natural habitats of these parrots in South Africa then there is no doubt that this contributes to their higher susceptibility to PBFD. Cape parrots are still losing their natural sources and they need to find alternatives. One of them are pecans. The fleshy covering of pecan nuts, which are exotic in Africa, contains not inconsiderable amount of toxins. This food became an important part of a Cape parrots diet and in the long term it can cause serious health issues.


File:Poicephalus robustus -South Africa-6a.jpg

(c) Alan Manson. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.


Regnard’s research team have worked with infected Cape Parrots in South Africa and their latest studies bring interesting results: „A significant inverse correlation between viral load and overall physical condition was found, which confirmed that clinical signs may confidently be used to diagnose the relative severity of BFDV infections in wild populations. This is the first assessment of BFDV viral load in a wild psittacine population.“ According to the low genetic variability of virus isolated from the blood of wild Cape parrots, researchers suppose that the disease outbreak is recent.


Title photo: (c) Lubomir Tomiska



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