Justification of Red List Category
This species is listed as Near Threatened because it has experienced a moderately rapid population reduction in its restricted range owing to trapping for export. Although this has been halted, it could re-start; and hybridisation with Agapornis personatus could represent an ongoing threat, although its current impact is unknown. Any evidence of a greater population decline, or more detailed information about how hybridisation is affecting this species, could qualify the species for a higher threat category.
The population has been estimated at 290,000-1,002,000 individuals.
There has been a major population decline since the 1970s owing principally to widespread trapping for the wild bird trade. Due to the bird trade, the rate of decline over three generations is suspected to fall in the 20-29% band. Hybridisation may prove to be of concern.
Agapornis fischeri is endemic to north-central Tanzania, where its historical range includes 14 locations, including three national parks (Morton and Bhatia 1992). Records from Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya apparently refer to feral birds and not to wild populations (Morton and Bhatia 1992). It was very common in the past but, since the 1970s there has been a major population decline, caused principally by widespread trapping for the wild bird trade, with large flocks perhaps still occurring only around Ndutu and the Serengeti National Park (Morton and Bhatia 1992; Moyer 1995). It has recently been reported from Uganda (Anon. 2012). A feral population derived from escapes from captivity started in south-eastern France, where A. personatus has also escaped with hybrids also observed (Jiguet 2007). However, A. fischeri is no longer counted as self-sustaining here because hybridisation and several severe winters have reduced the population sufficiently that this species has been removed from the French list (F. Jiguet in litt. 2016).
It inhabits semi-arid woodland with Acacia, Adansonia, and Commiphora at 1,100-2,200 m, deforested grassland, cultivation with remnant Adansonia and Borassus palm savanna (Morton and Bhatia 1992; Moyer 1995; del Hoyo et al. 1997). In the Serengeti, it is present in all types of woodland (del Hoyo et al. 1997). Riverine forest dominated by Ficus, Ziziphus, Tamarindus, Aphania, Garcinia and Eckbergia is an important dry season habitat. The species is mostly granivorous, taking seeds from seedheads and off the ground. It also takes Acacia seeds directly from trees. It attends waterholes and other types of surface water daily to drink. Breeding takes place from January to April and in June and July. Most nests are situated 2-15 m above the ground in holes and cracks in dead trees or dead branches on living trees, but possibly sometimes in cliffs as well. Its clutch-size in captivity is three to eight eggs, with an incubation period of c.23 days and fledging period of 38 days (del Hoyo et al. 1997).
It was the most commonly traded wild bird in the world in 1987 and was the most popular wild-caught parrot imported into the then European Economic Community, accounting for c.80% of the Psittacine exports from Tanzania (RSPB 1991). Legal trapping for export has now been halted, but the population is still much lower than it was, and trade could re-start; although this bird is now being bred in captivity for the pet trade (Moyer 1995; A. Mathur in litt. 2009). Exports of this species from the African continental mainland between 2005 and 2014 numbered roughly 800 individuals (Martin 2018). Over 20,000 individuals were imported into Singapore between 2005 and 2016 (Aloysius et al. 2019). The species has hybridised with Yellow-collared Lovebird A. personata in the wild, and although it was originally thought not to hybridise within its natural range (there is range overlap but A. fischeri appeared to be a non-breeding visitor to A. personata habitat [Morton and Bhatia 1992; N. Baker in litt. 1999]), this is no longer considered the case. There is possible evidence of hybridisation within its range, presumed as a result of release/escape from captivity (R. Wirth in litt. 2015); with hybrids recorded in Serengeti NP - within the range of A. fischeri but well away from its contact zone with A. personatus (Kolber 2016). It remains unclear whether the destruction of woodland, that had previously separated the two species, has led to the two taxa encountering each other more often and leading to hybridisation (R. Wirth in litt. 2015).
Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II.
Text account compilers
Baker, N., Evans, M., Jiguet, F., Mathur, A., O'Brien, A., Robertson, P., Starkey, M., Taylor, J., Westrip, J.R.S. & Wirth, R.
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Agapornis fischeri. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/03/2023.