Above: wild African grey populations have decreased by up to 79 per cent in almost 50 years. These birds have been crammed into a crate in the Democratic Republic of Congo Photo: Lwiro Sanctuary

 

THE CHARITY WORLD Animal Protection (WAP) has launched the “Wildlife. Not pets” campaign calling on Turkish Airlines to ban the transport of birds entirely from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The campaign is to ensure traffickers aren’t smuggling Endangered African grey parrots or other protected wildlife using Turkish Airlines planes.

In less than two weeks, 80,000 people signed the campaign’s petition. In response, Turkish Airlines issued an immediate global embargo on the transportation of African grey parrots on any of its planes.

One of the world’s most trafficked animals, the African grey is suffering terribly due to the wildlife pet trade. Poaching has caused a decline in wild populations in some areas of up to 79 per cent, with up to 21 per cent of the wild population harvested for the trade annually. The illicit trade in wild-caught birds sees two-thirds die before they even reach the aircraft; poachers clip their flight feathers to prevent escape before cramming the parrots into small, dirty containers for transport abroad.

After an investigation, WAP claims that, despite making commitments to combat wildlife trafficking, Turkish Airlines and its subsidiary, Turkish Cargo, have enabled the exotic pet trade, and that flights from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and Mali, have illegally transported wild-caught African grey parrots to countries in the Middle East, western and southern Asia

On a Turkish Airlines flight in August last year, more than 60 African grey parrots were found dead on arrival in K u w a i t , after a journey from Congo’s capital city of Kinshasa via Istanbul.

Representatives from WAP have met with Turkish Airlines officials to continue a dialogue to improve welfare for wildlife. Cassandra Koenen, WAP’s  global head of campaign – exotic pets, said: “Poaching animals for the exotic pet trade is happening on an industrial scale with devastating consequences. Worse still

is that the illegal and illicit Representatives from WAP have met with Turkish Airlines officials to continue a dialogue to improve welfare for wildlife. Cassandra Koenen, WAP’s global head of campaign – exotic pets, said: “Poaching animals for the exotic pet trade is happening on an industrial scale with devastating consequences. Worse still is that the illegal and illicit elements of the trade are often aided by government corruption and inadequate enforcement. Turkish Airlines must stop transporting birds until it can be sure African grey parrots are being protected. Until we see real, lasting commitment from Turkish Airlines, our job is not done.’’

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