Wild birds are one of the most traded animals on the global market, with approximately 1.3 million birds bought and sold internationally every year, according to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) .
However, the introduction of the EU ban on trade of wild birds in 2005 has reduced global trade by around 90%, according to new research published in the journal Science Advances .
Before 2005, EU members such as Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain accounted for the buying of around two thirds of all birds sold on the global market.
The ban was a result of fears of a loss of biodiversity in countries where the birds were captured and an increase in the spread of exotic birds in imported nations, which can cause damage to ecosystems as local crops are destroyed and the population of native birds is threatened as they are outcompeted for food.
As a result of the ban, Latin America has now taken over West Africa as the main exporter of birds, who is now responsible for more than 50% of wild bird exports. Meanwhile, new buyers have also been introduced to the market as the USA and Mexico imports have increased from 23 000 to 82 000 annually.
Despite the ban, birds such as parakeets, a common species of parrot usually kept as pets in Europe and North America, remained popular across the global market and they have even found new areas of residence. For instance, they are now a common sight in South East England as they have successfully established a wild population in their non-native habitat.
Results from this research clearly show the benefits of the ban in helping to maintain high levels of biodiversity in areas where birds are frequently sold on the global market and minimising the risk of exotic birds spreading.