It’s hard to watch, but this is the tragic truth of bird trafficking.
According to a conservation organization that offered updates on the case that was extensively covered earlier this month, only nine of the 21 birds found stuffed in plastic water bottles in the suitcase of a suspected wildlife smuggler survived.
The remaining birds, predominantly cockatoos, have been relocated to East Java’s Maharani Zoo.
The horrifying finding was made on May 4 when Indonesian authorities stopped a 37-year-old man as he alighted from a passenger ship at the Port of Tanjung Perak in Surabaya, a city on Java’s major island. The suspect has been apprehended.
Officers discovered the birds looking out of the bottles, which were photographed. The bottles’ bottoms had been chopped off to allow the birds to fit inside.
According to Mr. Mehd Halaouate, the Begawan Foundation’s breeding and release center manager, the stunning finding was made entirely by coincidence. On behalf of the World Parrot Trust, he paid a visit to the Maharani Zoo’s surviving birds.
When Indonesian authorities recovered the 21 sulfur-crested cockatoos and one Eclectus parrot, they had already spent four days and nights at sea. The species lives on Maluku’s Kai and Aru Islands in eastern Indonesia.
The alleged smuggler, who came from Ambon Island, had gotten off the ferry with one of the birds – a green-colored Eclectus parrot – on his shoulder during a transit.
He had no idea that transporting wildlife required a permit. The harbor police detained him, but they were unaware of the other birds.
Passengers on the ferry reported hearing shrieking and squawking coming from two large bags on the boat after watching his detention. The plastic bottles in which the cockatoos were caught were contained in these bags.
In his report, Mr. Halaouate stated: “Personally, I was really ill. I’ve seen smuggling attempts done in a variety of methods, but never this heinous.”
When the cockatoos were freed from their plastic cages, they were in appalling condition. Only about half of the passengers made it through the perilous journey.
According to Mr. Halaouate, police confiscated 21 sulfur-crested cockatoos and one Eclectus parrot, as opposed to the 24 birds previously reported.
According to media reports, the birds were extremely endangered yellow-crested cockatoos, however, Mr. Halaouate discovered that they were the more common medium sulfur-crested cockatoo. Both have a similar appearance and can be mistaken for one another.
While sulfur-crested cockatoos can still be found in large numbers in the wild, they are heavily trapped and captured for the pet trade, according to Mr. Halaouate. Some smuggled birds find up in private collections in Singapore.
Mr. Halaouate stated that the discovery made last month is not an isolated incident. Several months prior, 20 sulfur-crested cockatoos were confiscated in the same harbor and transferred to the zoo.
The zoo is trying to care for them all because the unexpected additions have stretched its budget, but the World Parrot Trust has raised some funding for the cockatoos.