African grays smuggled for illegal pet trade - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

African grays smuggled for illegal pet trade

ENTEBBE, UGANDA (CNN) - More than 130 rare African parrots were seized from a woman carrying a fake permit to carry the animals from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Uganda, a frequent jumping-off point for lucrative European and Asian markets.

Ugandan authorities said the woman's forged permit was for the transportation of more than 500 prized African gray parrots.

She was stopped along the border and wildlife officials later discovered that the birds had been fed alcohol-laced sugarcane to make them drowsy for the journey.

Most of the parrots were taken to the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, where they were reported to be in critical condition.

A few of the birds died.

Dr. Noel Arinpeireho, a veterinarian at the center, said the surviving birds would be placed in quarantine and subjected to a series of medical tests over the next month.

"After the quarantine we shall sit down and decide where to take them, but they are going back to the wild," Arinpeireho said.

Belinda Atin, a spokeswoman for the center, said illegal trade in African gray parrots has increased in recent years because the birds can fetch between $300 and $700 each in the European and Asian black markets.

More than 500 parrots were confiscated from smugglers in Congo last year.

"It's a lucrative business now… so it's gaining momentum," Atin said.

They African gray parrot is listed as having "near threatened status" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

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