According to wildlife officials in Kampala on Tuesday, as many as 500 of the beautiful but threatened birds are believed kept as pets in the tropical East African country – nearly all by foreign nationals.
   
"Many may not know it is illegal to keep these parrots, which are in danger of being wiped off the face of the earth," Moses Mapesa, director of field operations at the Uganda Wildlife Authority, told a news conference.
   
African Grey Parrots are listed as endangered under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora. 
   
Amnesty plan details

The wildlife agency said it launched the amnesty plan because the light grey and red birds, once domesticated, have difficulty returning to the wild.
   
"We decided that rather than arrest and charge the owners, we would welcome them to come to our offices and register their birds," Mapesa said.
   
Owners have until 30 April to buy a one-year, $80 licence for each bird, after which unregistered owners face punishment of up to five months in prison or a fine of up to $575.
   
"At the end, those who have not responded will be treated according to the law," Mapesa said.
   
African Greys - many of them smuggled from neighbouring eastern Democratic Republic of Congo - fetch as much as $140 each in Ugandan markets, officials said.