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The Heterogeneity of Illicit Parrot Markets: An Analysis of Seven Neo-Tropical Open-Air Markets

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Partly due to the illegal parrot trade, parrots are one of the most threatened bird species in the world. Trade bans and regulatory schemes have already been implemented, but the illegal parrot trade continues in an unsustainable fashion. Criminological research in the field has begun to understand why certain species are more prone to becoming poached, but not much is known about how illicit markets operate. A prior case study of a Bolivian illicit market found that most poached parrots are found within a 100-mile radius of the market (Pires and Clarke British Journal of Criminology, 51, 314–335, 2011). However, it is unclear if all markets operate in the same local way. Using two recent studies that look at illicit pet markets in seven cities within Peru and Bolivia (Gastanaga et al. Bird Conservational International, 1–10, 2010; Herrera and Hennessey Proceedings of the Fourth International Partners in Flight Conference: Tundra to Tropics, 232–234, 2008), this study investigates if illicit parrot markets fit a standard model. Findings from this study reveal that markets are heterogeneous. Furthermore, a substantial part of the illegal parrot trade involves trafficking species from one market to another and these species are suspected of emanating from just two city markets. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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  1. The authors do not specify what local and non-local means in miles. They simply examine if the ranges of species on markets are within the same department and region as the city market (Gastanaga et al. 2010).

  2. Some species may only be poached in certain times of the year and collecting parrot data every three months increases the likelihood of a randomized sample.

  3. A very similar picture can be portrayed for the Arequipa market.

  4. Based on the data, the Iquitos market does not receive species from other markets. Therefore, five is the maximum number of markets that a feeder market can distribute species to in this study.

  5. These species are the endangered Gray-cheeked Parakeet, the vulnerable Yellow-faced Parrotlet, and the Bronze-Winged Parrot. These birds are exclusively in the area of Chiclayo’s catchment area and are also poached in Chiclayo’s city markets’.

  6. Gastanaga et al. (2010) acknowledged that the Monk Parakeet was possibly trafficked from Bolivia to Peru at one point, but that was not the case anymore since this species was now being bred in Peru.

  7. Ranges of species do change over time especially when threatened by the illegal trade and habitat loss. Other times, ranges get bigger because species quickly become over-populated.

  8. Sixty one percent of all parrots could be a substantial undercount since it is suspected that many of the parrots in other cities have emanated from markets in Chiclayo and Pucallpa.


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I’d like to thank Dr. Ron Clarke for giving me invaluable advice on this research paper as well as mentoring me throughout my graduate career at Rutgers University.

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Correspondence to Stephen F. Pires.



Table 7 Species’ distance from markets (in miles)

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Pires, S.F. The Heterogeneity of Illicit Parrot Markets: An Analysis of Seven Neo-Tropical Open-Air Markets. Eur J Crim Policy Res 21, 151–166 (2015).

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