Cape Parrot Poicephalus robustus


Taxonomic note
Poicephalus robustus and P. fuscicollis (HBW and BirdLife International 2017) were previously lumped as P. robustus (del Hoyo and Collar 2014), but have been split following work by Collar and Fishpool (2017) who showed that the form robustus reached species rank under the Tobias criteria on morphological scoring alone, with the difference augmented by voice (7+3 = 10). The newly-defined P. robustus is monotypic, while P. fuscicollis is polytypic, including the races fuscicollis and suahelicus.

Taxonomic source(s)
Collar, N.J.C. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2017. Is the Cape Parrot a species or subspecies, and does it matter to CITES? Bulletin of the African Bird Club 24(2): 156-170.
HBW and BirdLife International. 2017. Taxonomic checklist of the birds of the world. V2.0.

IUCN Red list criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- - D1

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2021 Vulnerable D1
2017 Vulnerable D1
Species attributes

Migratory status not a migrant Forest dependency Medium
Land mass type Average mass -

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 270,000 medium
Number of locations -
Severely Fragmented -
Population and trend
Value Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals 730-1200 good estimated 2015
Population trend Stable estimated -
Decline (3 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (5 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation future) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation past and future) - - -
Number of subpopulations 3 - - -
Percentage in largest subpopulation 1-89 - - -
Generation length (yrs) 12.12 - - -

Population justification: The population has been assessed annually by the Cape Parrot Big Birding Day since 1997. Population numbers prior to 2002 were below 500, but since then the numbers have been higher (average 1,366 ± 245 individuals between 2008 and 2012, with a high count of 1,786 individuals in 2009; Downs et al. 2014), likely a consequence of an increase in survey coverage.

In Downs (2015) the population size was listed as 1,100-1,500 mature individuals. However, since it was stated that it was unknown what proportion of these individuals were adults, this estimate is considered here to relate to total individuals rather than mature individuals. Treating the population estimate of Downs (2015) as an estimate of the total number of individuals would also fit with the estimates presented by Downs et al. (2014) and Downs and Singh (2016). This estimate could be altered to take into account the maximum record of 2009, so that the range is 1,100-1,786 individuals, which would roughly equate to 733-1,190 mature individuals, rounded here to 730-1,200 mature individuals. There are estimated to be 60-80 individuals in the isolated Limpopo subpopulation, 500-600 in the Amatole forests, and 400-500 each in the former Transkei and southern KwaZulu-Natal forests (Downs 2015). The number of individuals in the largest population is therefore thought to be 800-1000, roughly equivalent to 530-667 mature individuals.

Trend justification: Higher numbers reported since 2002 likely reflect better survey coverage, and the population appears to have been stable over at least the 15 years of surveys from 1998-2012 (Downs et al. 2014). The 2016 survey reported a maximum of 1,499 individuals (Downs and Singh 2016) and numbers since 2012 are considered to have remained broadly stable.

Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Resident Breeding Non-breeding Passage
South Africa N Extant Yes

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Forest Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane major resident
Altitude 1000 - 1400 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact
Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals - Intentional use (species is the target) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 5
Species mortality
Biological resource use Logging & wood harvesting - Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest] Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Climate change & severe weather Habitat shifting & alteration Timing Scope Severity Impact
Future Whole (>90%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Ecosystem degradation
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Viral/prion-induced diseases - Beak and Feather Disease Virus (BFDV) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Unknown Unknown Unknown
Species mortality

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Poicephalus robustus. Downloaded from on 15/08/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 15/08/2022.