Chester Zoo has provided a safe haven for 100 exotic birds, from 14 different species, after they were rescued from the illegal wildlife trade by customs officials in Europe. The birds were destined to be illegally sold as pets - if they managed to survive transport to their final destination.
The illegal wildlife trade is the fourth largest international crime in the world, worth around $19 billion annually. Forests are falling silent as thousands of birds are taken from the wild in Africa, South America and South East Asia, to be sold as pets. In South East Asia alone, up to 1.3 million birds are taken from the wild each year.
The rescued birds have been given a safe new home in the zoo’s habitats and will now play a crucial role in boosting safety net numbers of each species as part of international breeding programmes, managed by the zoo and the global conservation community.
Mike Jordan, Collections Director at Chester Zoo, said: “Thousands of illegally smuggled birds die in squalid conditions during their traumatic journeys across the globe, fuelling the illegal wildlife trade.
“We are pleased to be able to offer these beautiful, precious surviving birds a suitable home, where they will contribute to breeding programmes for threatened species - and will help to inform our zoo visitors about the illegal wild bird trade.”
Conservationists at Chester Zoo are calling for public help to fight the crisis; anyone travelling to South East Asia should download the Wildlife Witness smartphone app, and use it to report suspicious instances of illegal wildlife trade, where safe to do so. Those travelling elsewhere in the world can report any suspicious activity via Chester Zoo’s online illegal wildlife trade reporting form. And everyone can support Chester Zoo’s Sing For Songbirds campaign, which has so far raised £20,000 for conservation breeding aviaries in South East Asia.
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