ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE: The only reason pet bird trade continues to flourish is because many of us continue to buy caged birds. It is at times when the illegal and inhuman practices of pet traders are brought to light that a few pause to ponder over the plight of these unfortunate winged creatures. In one such recent incident, West Bengal forest department officials arrested three smugglers and seized about 200 endangered birds that were to be sold as pets. The birds were allegedly being transported from a hideout in Rajabazar to a pet market on Galiff Street in north Kolkata. The seized birds, valued at about Rs. 3 lakh, include 151 munias and 21 parakeets.

Seized birds in Kolkata

According to the Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Pradip Vyas,

“The arrested trio, whose names are Mohammad Osman, Mohammad Sulaiman, and Mohammad Saheb, are habitual offenders and kingpins of a widespread racket.”

Officials said that in the past the squad raided the pet markets but smugglers often managed to get away while their associates attacked the officials. This time the squad decided to nab the perpetrators while they were transporting the birds to the market place. The officials further added that the seized birds would soon be released into the wild.

Lost Freedom

Birds make fascinating pets, especially gregarious parrots and adorable love birds. Yet, what most pet owners fail to understand is that birds are meant to be free and the sky is literally the limit for them.

Munias and parakeets are listed as endangered species under Schedule II of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act. Hunting or trading of Schedule II birds and animals is illegal, and anyone found guilty of engaging in the trade of these birds and animals faces a jail term of up to seven years.

Sadly, these birds continue to be captured in places like north Bengal, Bihar, and the foothills of the Himalayas from where they are transported to pet markets in cities like Kolkata via trains. To avoid being detected due to the tight vigil at Sealdah and Howrah stations, the smugglers usually unload their illegal cargo at Burdwan station from where the birds are brought to Kolkata by road.

In Kolkata, these smuggled birds are usually kept at hideouts around Galiff Street and are brought to the pet market on Sunday, the weekly market day. While domestic animals, rabbits, and ornamental fish are commonly sold in the market, birds account for almost 75 per cent of the pet trade.

Similarly, every Sunday, at the Hoga market in Kolkata, village trappers provide the local pet sellers with more than 6,000 captured birds. The next morning, the sellers offer these birds at other markets in and around Kolkata, including Hati Bagan which is another booming bird-trading location.

Methods Used to Trap Wild Birds

Fledgling birds are often captured from their nests, while adult birds are caught in traps or nets. Trappers generally use “mist nets” and “clap nets” to catch unwitting birds that fly straight into them. As the trapped birds struggle to break free, most of them end up dead or with serious injuries.

Mist nets – Made of light weight nylon threads the net is hung on two poles or two tree branches. Because of the fine weaving it is practically invisible and birds easily get trapped.

Mist Net

Clap nets – Made of nylon weaving with an additional clap that can be used to close the net instantly by pulling a string and trapping the birds.

Clap Nets

Slip Noose – Trappers also use a method that involves attaching a slip noose to a cow’s back and tail. As the cow swishes her tail, the noose opens and closes. On a typical day, at least two birds get caught in the slip noose. This crude method often results in broken legs or other injuries in the captured birds.

Lime stick – By far the most barbaric, trappers use at least three variations of the “lime stick” method. A highly sticky substance made from peepal tree sap and slaked lime is applied to extension poles which are then used along with insect baits and bird decoys to probe high branches and the insides of domes. Birds which come in contact with the lime on these sticks get stuck to it and are subsequently captured.

Lime stick

Eight of the 12 native species of parrots found in India regularly turn up in the illegal pet trade. These are:

  • Alexandrine,
  • Rose-ringed,
  • Plum-headed,
  • Red-breasted,
  • Malabar,
  • Himalayan Parakeets,
  • Finsch’s Parakeets,
  • and Vernal Hanging-parrot.

This can stop when you stop keeping birds as pets. If you really want to shower your love on these beautiful species, let them live a life that is free from cages. Visit forests, keep feeds and grains, plant trees, place home-made nests in your home to encourage the free birds to visit. It is when people stop buying that the trade of illegal poaching of birds can be put to an end.

More Related Stories,

Pet Parrot Trade Killing Millions of Birds

132 Species of Plants and Animals Critically Endangered in India

Google gives 500 million Dollars to WWF for War Against Wildlife Crime

Reference and Image

Image courtesy – Clap trap, mist net, lime stick trap (Images used as a matter of explanation of the methods used for trapping birds)

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About Rohit Daniel

Rohit Daniel is freelance writer, photographer and an educator. He is an avid nature lover and enjoys travelling. He believes that animals have an equal right to our planet, and without wildlife this world would be an empty and meaningless piece of dirt floating in space.

10 thoughts on “200 Endangered Birds Seized in Kolkata: Illegal Trade Continues to Flourish in India

  1. I have some budgie(Australian parakeet) as my pet. I love them and care of them a lot. However I always want to free them from cage but unfortunately its illegal to get them free in our country bcoz they r foreign birds..Is there any organization who can help or guide me to free them in their homeland or in any wild place..plz inform me…!!

    1. Glad to know that you have decided to release the budgergiars. However, as you correctly realise these birds are not native to India and considering their delicate nature, it will be advisable to not take any chances and release them in the wild in India. They will only become a prey to some larger bird like a crow and will not be able to survive here. You can call your local wildlife rescue centre or zoological park to ask if they will take the birds, but I fear they too will keep them in a cage. It might therefore be better if they stay with you. I hope you take good care of them and make there life as comfortable as possible given the circumstances. Also, stop others from buying these birds as pets in the future to avoid such issue and visible torture of the birds.

      1. Thanks a lot for ur advice.. By the way i want to work with India’s Endangered for animals. Kindly tell me the procedure of joining there. I’ll b very much happy if i get any role of this organization.. I’m from kolkata just compltd my Higher diploma and my fvrt hobbies r loving animals and photography.. 🙂

  2. These birds are very beautiful and some times we thinks that can we catch and make them our own pets but they were birds who wants to live freedom in the environment and in trees when we take care give them food and safety but then also it is very less for them because freedom and trees are every thing for them I think that we should not catch such beautiful birds.

    1. You are right Megha. You can keep a bird in a golden cage but it will still have lost its freedom. It will be better to plant more trees around our homes and then enjoy the presence of the birds that make the tree their home.

  3. Hi there,

    We need help from you guys….. The stupid government of Karnataka is up on a new project to axe down 80 plus trees in Bangalore to build some stupid bus stop….. These trees are houses for large number of bird species as well….

    I am filing a PIL in the NGT and other relevant department s….. Please support these youngster’s who wants to stop these kind of incidents…..

    Regards

    Alexander Rodriguez

    8553478806

  4. It all has to do with that root of all evil MONEY if money wasn’t involved we would’nt have any of this going on its those who pay out for this illegal activity that need to be stopped

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