Above: A total of 292 rose-ringed parakeets – adults and chicks – one Asian koel and one common hill myna were confiscated from traders at Galiff Street Sunday Pet Market in West Bengal. Photo: Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, Government of India/Facebook


ABOUT 550 PARROTLIKE birds that were due to be sold illegally were seized from a market in India last month.

At the beginning of April, two separate raids just five hours apart were conducted at Galiff Street Sunday Pet Market in central Kolkata, West Bengal, by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) and the West Bengal Forest Department.

The recovered birds included 292 rose-ringed parakeets/ringnecks (Psittacula krameri), one Asian koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus) and one common hill myna (Gracula religiosa). In the first raid, six people were arrested after 250 parakeets were found locked inside cramped cages. A further 300 birds were recovered in a second raid, including a number of chicks in very poor condition, which are unlikely to survive.

In total, nine traders, aged between 18 and 32, were arrested. A WCCB official told The Telegraph India: “All the birds are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act. Trading or keeping them is a punishable offence. We seized the birds and arrested some people. But as soon as we left, the bird sale resumed. The sellers felt since we had raided once, we will not return. But we raided the place twice to catch those who were selling birds after the first raid. Besides, this will instil a sense of fear among such sellers.”

Following an amendment in 1991 to the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, apart from the house crow (Corvus splendens), which is listed as vermin, no Indian bird can be hunted, trapped, caged or traded.

This is the second raid of Galiff Street Pet Market in the past year;  in June 2018, 65 parakeets and three hill mynas were seized from an auto rickshaw that was on its way to the market. The driver was arrested.

Other parrot species that are often traded illegally include plum-headed parakeet (P. cyanocephala) and Alexandrine parakeet (P. eupatria),  as well as the following songbirds: black-headed munia (Lonchura malacca), red avadavat (Amandava amandava) and white-throated munia (L. malabarica).

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