Officials seize more than 300 African parrots in Istanbul

Officials seize more than 300 African parrots in Istanbul

Officials seize more than 300 African parrots in Istanbul

Customs officials in Istanbul seized more than 300 rare African gray parrots (Psittacus erithacus) smuggled from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Jan. 9.

The General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks teams were last week tipped off about an illegal trafficking of endemic African parrots and cooperated with customs officials to find the birds, the agency reported.

The official from Turkish Forestry and Water Affairs Ministry, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to media, said the birds were found at a customs warehouse in a cargo package en route to Iraq.

Trade of endemic birds was banned in 2016 under Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

According to the ministry official, the gray parrots -- one of the world’s most trafficked birds -- would later be smuggled to markets in Turkey through Iraq.

He said 10 birds were dead when found and the rest were taken to Celal Acar Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in the northwestern province of Bursa.

“The African Gray Parrot was listed in Annex 1 by the CITES Secretariat on Jan. 2, 2017,” Forestry and Water Affairs Veysel Eroğlu said, recalling that Congo was suspended from wildlife trading following last year’s decision.

According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), between 2.1 and 3.2 million African gray parrots were captured between the years of 1975 and 2013.