At least 21 cockatoos have been discovered and saved from illegal trafficking; they were recovered at an Indonesian port during an anti-smuggling operation, crammed in 1500 ml bottles. Unfortunately, seven of them didn’t survive.

Cuckatoos are being smuggled in plastic water bottles. Image via CNN.

“The birds were still alive then but some were already very weak,” Lily Djafar, spokeswoman for the Tanjung Perak police, said in a statement.

Cockatoos are critically endangered, but they are desired by many as house pets. They were cut from their plastic prisons by Indonesian customs officials at Tanjung Perak port in Surabaya, and this is not the first time they’ve discovered something like this.

In April alone, over 200 rare and endangered animals, including birds of paradise, reptiles, sugar gliders and cockatoos were saved, and the suspects are members of boat crews. The fact that people are willing to stuff the birds into small plastic bottles shows at what lengths these people go to make some money through smuggling.

Traffic’s Southeast Asia Facebook page says that stuffing these birds into plastic bottles is actually quite common, as cockatoo smuggling has increased to incredible heights in recent years. They are sold either as pets, or to be eaten, for supposed medicinal properties.

“(The yellow-crested cockatoo is) a breed that is at very serious risk because of excessive trafficking of wild populations,” Traffic’s Thomas said. “Most of those birds are destined to be trafficked to parrot collector and breeders, rather than the meat market.

“There’s a lot of demand for parrots and cockatoos in southeast Asia and Europe,” he said. “They could well have been destined for markets there, although obviously it’s illegal for wild-caught birds to be exported.”

If there’s a crime which I wish would have a much stricter punishment, I wish it was poaching and animals smuggling. It’s just unbelievable to see just how many animals are killed and how many species are threatened by these practices.

“The raging practice of online wildlife trade has become a serious threat for wildlife conservation, because most of the traded animals were captured from the wild, not from captive breeding as claimed by many dealers,” Swasti Prawidya Mukti, campaign officer for Profauna, a nonprofit working for the protection of forest and wildlife in Indonesia, said in a statement in January.

“Wildlife crime has become a transnational business. Therefore, governments should take this more seriously as such act… clearly (violates) our national law.”

You too can contribute to this issue, either positively or negatively – don’t buy wild birds, even if they were bred in captivity, so you don’t encourage the illegal market.

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