Bird smugglers continue brisk business
Saturday, February 18, 2012 at 11:23
City Parrots in Conservation, Legislation, Loriculus vernalis - Vernal Hanging Parrot, Poaching, Psittacula alexandri - Red-breasted Parakeet, Psittacula columboides - Malabar Parakeet, Psittacula cyanocephala - Plum-headed Parakeet, Psittacula derbiana - Derbyan Parakeet, Psittacula eupatria - Alexandrine Parakeet, Psittacula finschii - Grey-headed Parakeet, Psittacula krameri - Ring-necked Parakeet, Smuggling, Wild bird trade

The Parrots of India (click to enlarge)Despite the blanket ban on trade in bird species across India since 1990-91, hundreds of parrots continue to be collected and traded annually in the country.

At least eight out of the 12 species of the bird including the flamboyant Alexandrine Parakeet (mithu) are smuggled out by Indian dealers through Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh to various bird markets in different parts of the world.

According to Abrar Ahmed, ornithologist and a bird trade consultant to Traffic India, the bulk of the parrot trade involves smuggling of three to four-week-old chicks that are snatched ruthlessly from the nests in the wild.

To help enforcement officers identify various species of the native parrots and check its illegal trade, Traffic India has also come up with an identification poster called “Parrots of India in Illegal Trade”.

Since identification of parrots and other species in trade is a major challenge, the new poster will act as a quick identifier of the 12 native species, he pointed out. Copies of the poster will be distributed to Police, Customs, Forest Departments, Railway Protection Forces, schools, colleges and educational institutions.

A parrot in captivity is one of the more visible symbols of illegal trade in India, felt MKS Pasha, coordinator of Traffic India. For centuries, parrots have been kept as pets mainly because they are easy to keep and quickly replaceable due to their ready availability. This has in turn created demand leading to an organised illegal trade in parrots, he added.

Of the 12 native species, the eight that are regularly used in illegally trade include Alexandrine, Rose-ringed, Plum-headed, Red-breasted, Malabar, Himalayan and Finsch’s Parakeets and Vernal Hanging parrot. Three species of Indian parrots have also been listed by IUCN as ‘near-threatened’ with extinction, due to illegal trade.

Elaborating further on the modus operandi of parrot poaching, Ahmad informed that parrots are caught using nets and bird-lime. Adult parrots are traded throughout the year, with chicks arriving in trade between December and June. For every bird that reaches the market place, several are believed to die en route. “The Alexandrine Parakeet is one of the most sought-after species in the Indian live bird trade and is traded in large volumes throughout the year,” observed Ahmad.

The chicks are collected from forested areas and transported to bird markets in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Patna, Lucknow and Kolkata, from where they are smuggled outside the country.

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