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Confiscated parrots returned to dealer

Back in September we reported on 529 parrots being seized at Kavumus regional airport in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The parrots were on the way to Singapore and were packed in such bad conditions that 29 were already dead when officials moved in. The survivors were sent to the Lwiro Primate Sanctuary for treatment and preparation to be released into the wild.

On November 22nd 2010 the authorities returned to the sanctuary and seized the African Grey parrots and gave them back to the original dealer. The Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) and the World Parrot Trust (WPA) – who helped to put in place facilities for the parrots – have called on international law enforcement agencies to be aware that they may soon be a large consignment of illegally traded parrots on their way.

We rescue and rehabilitate wildlife to conserve important species – not make them well so that dealers might get rich
490 of the surviving parrots have been returned to the dealer and PASA are not happy about the parrots being seized from the sanctuary. “PASA is outraged at the manner in which the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has removed these parrots from a PASA member sanctuary,” said Doug Cress, executive director of PASA. “We were given no warning and no cause. We rescue and rehabilitate wildlife to conserve important species – not make them well so that dealers might get rich. We condemn this action, and will do anything we can to keep this shipment from leaving Africa.”

PASA and WPT have alerted the CITES authorities about the situation and sent a report to the CITES officials in Singapore to warn them to be on the look out for the consignment. Reports have also been sent to INTERPOL and the World Customs Union. When the officials arrived at the sanctuary they ordered that the parrots were packed back into the original crates for transport. Because the crates did not meet international standards reports have also been lodged with the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

“The World Parrot Trust collaborated closely with PASA, Lwiro and a number of key advisors in this most recent parrot rescue, and feel the birds were seized in a manner that is neither legal nor humane as outlined in CITES regulations,” said Dr. James Gilardi, executive director of the WPT. “We respectfully request that the CITES Secretariat investigate this action by the DR Congo government, and take steps to halt this and future illegal and inhumane consignments of African Grey parrots.”

The trade in African Grey Parrots is controlled by CITES agreements as the species is on the appendix 2 list. It’s thought that up to 20% of the remaining parrot population is caught each year to meet the pet trade. The Kinshasa dealer had a permit to trade 300 individuals but the crates originally contain 529 individuals – far in excess of his permit.

Interpol has recently said it is willing to take a lead role in the fight against wildlife crime and at recent conferences we have seen a commitment to the formation of a powerful wildlife crime fighting organisation in the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC). We’ll soon see how effective and committed the organisations are in the way that they tackle issues like these.

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