Smugglers Busted with 500 Grey Parrots in Cameroon
Posted: 28 November 2007 05:07 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Dear All,

This just in from Reuters.  Ofir at the Last Great Ape Organization has been working on cases like this for a while now, and this time the caught the guys red handed.  There was a possibility that the birds in condition for release are already at liberty, but we should know more tomorrow.  Among the many remarkable things about this case is the fact that the birds were not sold or auctioned off and that there’s a good chance the smugglers will serve time. 

Note that although the EU stopped importing all wild birds in November 2005, other countries still legally import these birds.  Cameroon’s ‘07 quota is still officially ‘in prep,’ but clearly they’ve been willing to sign off on consignments of Grey Parrots as the year has progressed.  http://www.cites.org/common/quotas/2007/ExportQuotas2007.pdf

Will let you know about the fate of these birds as we learn more, stay tuned!

All best,

Jamie

YAOUNDE (Reuters) - Authorities in Cameroon have arrested two Ghanaians for trying to illegally export 500 African Grey parrots out of the central African country to Bahrain, officials said on Tuesday.

The parrots, estimated to be worth $400,000 in all, were thought to have been captured in the rainforest of southeastern Cameroon and would be released back into the wild, according to Ofir Drori, director of the Last Great Ape Organization conservation group which helped catch the alleged smugglers.

“I’m happy the government of Cameroon is taking the illegal trade in African Grey parrots quite seriously,” Drori said.

“The (forestry and wildlife) minister’s decision to release the birds into the wild far from the hands of the dealers will send a strong message,” he told Reuters.

The African Grey is a medium-sized parrot which is held to be one of the world’s most intelligent birds, partly for its ability to imitate human speech. This makes it a popular pet.

One captive African Grey, N’kisi, made headlines in 2004 after scientists said it had a vocabulary of 950 words.

The species is listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to which Cameroon is a signatory. The pact requires that exports be accompanied by a permit issued by a national authority.

Drori said the Ghanaians had been in possession of fake CITES licenses and that the parrots had already been stamped for export by customs officials in the main commercial city of Douala when the seizure was made.

The men could face up to three years in prison or fines of 3-10 million CFA francs ($6,795-22,650) if found guilty.

(Reporting by Tansa Musa; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Pascal Fletcher)

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Posted: 30 November 2007 08:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Update from Cameroon:

“180 parrots are already free, one top guy behind bars, its a hell of a fight”

It sounds like the releases of these confiscated African Greys are already underway.  Pictures to follow.

All best,

Jamie

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Posted: 03 December 2007 11:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Dear All ... this just in from Ofir at LAGA:


Warm Greetings from Cameroon,

This has been a happy weekend, after a hard week of fighting corruption.  The Parrot case and the return of the Taiping Four gave us great satisfaction.

The 500 Grey Parrots case proved to be one of the most interesting in terms of high level corruption and complicity.
Fighting corruption for 6 days non-stop got us some victories. One top dealer behind bars and most of the parrots are already free. Still we have two other offenders we need to put back behind bars.

You can see international coverage at -
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071127/od_uk_nm/oukoe_uk_cameroon_parrots

I want to use this case revealing how corruption works at high level. We are talking about a half a million dollars worth of contraband.

The Minister declared in the Taiping four ceremony that he decided to release this parrots into the wild as an act of commitment towards fighting wildlife crime and symbolically released a few of them with the governor of Limbe and two Ambassadors.

This is the first time such quantity is seized and not recycled back into the trade benefiting illegal dealers.

We hope this release will set precedence not only in Cameroon.

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Posted: 03 December 2007 04:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Still more news, this time from the country where these grey parrots were originally destined.

All best wishes,

Jamie

______________________________________________________________________________

http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/Story.asp?Article=201867&Sn=BNEW&IssueID=30258

Stop animal smuggling!

By mandeep singh

ANIMAL rights activists yesterday called for Bahrain to set up strict laws that would prevent the import and mistreatment of exotic animals and birds.

The call was sparked by reports from Cameroon that authorities there have arrested two Ghanaians for trying to smuggle 500 African Grey parrots out of the central African country to Bahrain.

The parrots, estimated to be worth $400,000 (BD150,800) in all, were thought to have been captured in the rainforest of south-eastern Cameroon and were released back into the wild, according to an official at the Last Great Ape Organisation conservation group that helped catch the alleged smugglers.

Bahrain has done very little to ensure that laws are in place authorising prompt and strict action against those who import animals and birds and keep them in cages, said Bahrain Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA) sanctuary manager Sandy Carter.

“I am happy the smugglers have been caught and I am happy the birds have been released into the wild,” she said.

“Had they made their way into Bahrain, they would have ended up in some cage somewhere and there is nothing we or the law could have done about it.”

Ms Carter said it was about time some serious thought was given to this issue.

“We have had people in Bahrain owning huskies from Siberia, when these animals have no business to be out of the extremely cold climate they are used to,” she said.

“We have seen all kinds of animals in cages when they should be roaming free.

“We have often questioned the owners, but cannot do anything in the absence of legal backing.”

However, Municipalities and Agriculture Ministry animal wealth director Dr Salman Abdulnabi Al Ebrahim said that there was a ministerial order banning import of all kinds of birds into Bahrain.

“Even if some of these parrots had made their way out of Cameroon, they would not have been allowed in. There are strict laws governing that,” he said.

The African Grey is a medium-sized parrot, which is thought to be one of the world’s most intelligent birds, partly for its ability to imitate human speech.

One captive African Grey, N’kisi, made headlines in 2004 after scientists said it had a vocabulary of 950 words.

The species is listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) to which Cameroon is a signatory.

The pact requires that exports be accompanied by a permit issued by a national authority.

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Posted: 04 December 2007 05:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Dear All,

Here’s the latest news from Ofir in Cameroon - 500 more African Greys confiscated!

We just arranged today to provide financial support both for the Limbe Wildlife Center which is handling, rehabilitating, and releasing these birds (http://www.limbewildlife.org/), as well as Ofir’s organization, the Last Great Ape Organization which is working on getting these traffickers busted in the first place (http://www.laga-enforcement.org/).

We’ll keep you updated with the latest news on this second batch of 500 birds.

All best,

Jamie
_____________________________________________________________

Dear supporters,
We are having busy time in Cameroon
Total parrots to be released to the wild is climbing to 1,000!
that’s around one million’s worth of contraband for this week alone,
If we include the gorillas, that’s 2.6 million dollars of deadly price tags removed from our wildlife in a single week!
We just succeeded in another operation in the Douala airport, arresting a dealer trying to export another shipment of 500 African Grey parrots. The dealer is Cameroon’s biggest exporter. He has been using for years his cover as a legal trader to engage in large scale illegal trade. His contacts allowed him not only to enjoy the complicity of the government but also of NGOs.
It was another fierce battle against high level corruption but the wealthy dealer who could never imagine will see the inside of a prison cell is now behind bars. We estimate he is one of the biggest live animals traffickers in Cameroon.
In a meeting with the Minister a few hours ago he congratulated LAGA for the work,  pledged to intensify the fight against corruption, and instructed to release the parrots to the wild.
We also hope this operation will result in a few Ministry officials losing their jobs soon.
Last release of the parrots, and the high level arrest has continued to spread in international news - Reuters, BBC, TFI, even resulting in a press article in Bahrain (the illegal destination of the parrots) with interview of Director of Wildlife.
In a TV talk show this morning I explained the close relations between legal and illegal trades in Cameroon, saying that huge price tags for dead or caged animals endanger our wildlife and only benefit individual pockets, while the benefits of ecotourism are shared by an entire nation.
Happy but tired,
Ofir and the LAGA family

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Posted: 05 December 2007 09:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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http://africa.reuters.com/wire/news/usnL05872312.html

Cameroon group faults airline over parrot smuggling
Wed 5 Dec 2007, 15:58 GMT
By Tansa Musa

YAOUNDE, Dec 5 (Reuters) - A wildlife conservation group in Cameroon said on Wednesday it was considering suing Ethiopian Airlines for complicity after it caught smugglers trying to take 1,000 African Grey parrots out of the central African country.

The Yaounde-based Last Great Ape Organization (LAGA), working with Cameroon’s security forces, seized a consignment of 500 African Grey parrots on Tuesday aboard an Ethiopian Airlines plane shortly before it was due to leave Douala airport.

The discovery came just over a week after the authorities arrested two Ghanaians for trying to illegally export a first batch of 500 parrots out of Douala to Bahrain.

“We’re considering initiating a court case against the airline company, which has been found to be irregularly involved in the transport of wildlife without permission,” LAGA director Ofir Drori told Reuters in an interview.

No comment from Ethiopian Airlines was immediately available.

The African Grey is a medium-sized parrot which is held to be one of the world’s most intelligent birds, partly for its ability to imitate human speech. This makes it a popular pet.

The species is listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to which Cameroon is a signatory. The pact requires that exports be accompanied by a permit issued by a national authority.

In total, the two batches of parrots are estimated to be worth $800,000. (Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Mary Gabriel)

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Posted: 07 December 2007 07:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=86&art_id=vn20071207085406901C638548

By Noor-Jehan Yoro Badat

Five hundred African grey parrots, valued at about R3,5-million, have been confiscated in Cameroon.

Ofir Drori, from the Last Great Ape Organisation (Laga), an organisation designed to establish the effective enforcement of wildlife law in Cameroon - said a dealer had been arrested at the airport.

The confiscation of the parrots is the second batch to have been seized in a week. The second consignment was headed for Mexico City.

The parrots were taken to the Limbe Wildlife Sanctuary, about two hours from the airport and the only infrastructure able to accommodate them.

Peter Jenkins, founder of the Pandrillus Foundation in Nigeria and director of the Limbe Wildlife Sanctuary, said that while there was often no government action to enforce wildlife law, he was encouraged by the confiscation of the parrots and the arrest of an illegal trader.

“Something was done and we see the consequences of it,” he said.

Felix Lankester, the sanctuary’s project manager, said that as soon as he was contacted by Laga, the sanctuary’s team immediately set out to build a flight cage. He said the cage would house the parrots only until they were released in a nearby forest. Until the flight cage was ready, the parrots were being housed in another cage at the far end of the sanctuary.

“We will sort out the sick ones and put the rest in the other cage, but we have to get them out of here as soon as possible and back into the forest,” said Lankester.

From the first batch that arrived last week, so far 300 African grey parrots have been released. Twenty parrots have died from Chlamydia psittaci, a common disease among parrots, brought on by stress and malnutrition. And from the new batch, seven of the parrots have died and one is injured.

Lankester said the parrots had been transported in shocking conditions. They were stuffed to capacity in wooden crates, containing two roost sections and enclosed by wire mesh.

“I have never seen anything like this. It makes it embarrassing for humans. With their sharp claws, they were standing on top of each other. They were stressed and afraid.It is a shocking situation.”

Lankester explained that African grey parrots were usually caught by hunters, after an order had been placed with them from an illegal trader, who rubbed glue or gum on fruit trees to trap the birds.

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Posted: 15 December 2007 10:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Felix Lankester of the Limbe Wildlife Centre in Cameroon emailed an update on the African Greys on 14th December, including this:
“Currently we are busy constructing a second and larger flight cage for the second shipment of parrots.  This will be completed today.
So far we have released, in a nearby suitable forest site, all of the releaseable birds from the first 500 parrots.  80 birds were not releasable due to emaciation &/or damaged/glued/cut feathers &/or sickness.  These birds have been separated into a) sick birds and b) relatively healthy birds with damaged feathers.  Those with feather problems are in the newly constructed first flight cage. The sick birds are in smaller cages receiving treatment.

The second shipment of 500 parrots:  we have begun releasing the healthy strong birds from this group, with 90 being released yesterday.  We shall continue to release the strong birds from this group, and we shall place the non-releasable ones in the second flight cage that will be completed today. 
Of the birds released, all have flown off strongly and we hope that they will have a fair chance of survival.  Indeed, 20 minutes after the release of the most recent group of parrots,  the whole group were seen flying high over our heads in a flock.  This was an encouraging sight as it meant that the birds had managed to regroup and were able to reach altitude. This was an encouraging sign.”

Felix goes on to say “I predict that once we have released all the healthy birds we will have approx. 150 to 200 birds that won’t be immediately releasable and that we will have to keep for 3-6 months whilst their damaged feathers regrow and they put on weight.”

To let you all know that the World Parrot Trust has already made a donation help with the costs of the flight aviaries, food, vet treatment etc, and is appealing for further funds to send.  See:
http://www.parrots.org/index.php/ourwork/african_grey_appeal for more on this and some photos.

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Posted: 17 December 2007 02:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Is there a press release for this appeal?

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Posted: 24 December 2007 08:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Hi Everyone,

We have just received an update from the Limbe Wildlife Center. It can be viewed at this link:
http://www.parrots.org/index.php/ourwork/african_grey_blog

Best,

Steve-

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Posted: 09 January 2008 02:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Hi Roelent,

Thanks for your question about the press release. Here are a few quick updates:

A release has been issued for this appeal and can be viewed at:
http://www.parrots.org/index.php/presskit/pressreleases/

The BBC recently covered this story as well including an interview with Trustee Nick Reynolds, from Paradise Park. The article and interview can be viewed at:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/cornwall/content/articles/2008/01/04/aboutcornwall_parrots_feature.shtml

We also received another update from Felix Lankester MSc MRCVS, the Project Manager at Limbe. It can be viewed at:
http://www.parrots.org/index.php/ourwork/african_grey_blog_2

Look for future updates on our efforts in FlockTalk and in the next issue of PsittaScene.

Best,

Steve-

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Posted: 19 January 2008 10:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Dear All,

I wanted to let you about two recent updates about the Grey parrots at the Limbe Centre in Cameroon.
Things are looking up, see http://www.parrots.org/index.php/ourwork/african_grey_blog_3 and http://www.parrots.org/index.php/ourwork/african_grey_blog_4

As of now, the damaged feathers have been plucked from about 220 birds.

All best,
Cristiana

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Posted: 18 October 2009 11:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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The Minister declared in the Taiping four ceremony that he decided to release this parrots into the wild as an act of commitment towards fighting wildlife crime and symbolically released a few of them with the governor of Limbe and two Ambassadors.

This is the first time such quantity is seized and not recycled back into the trade benefiting illegal dealers.

Regards

Gondar

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Posted: 07 September 2010 09:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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We need to protect these parrot to protect our environment and preserve biodiversity. I think government should take strong and strict steps against those criminals who wants to destroy our bird and environment. I think Interpol should take a remarkable steps to stop this.

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