482 smuggled parrots rescued across Mumbai in five years

Updated: Apr 01, 2017, 08:35 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty

Parrots were at the top of the list of animals rescued across the city; the birds are smuggled in from outside Mumbai and sold in violation of wildlife laws

Pic for representation
Pic for representation

Despite the fact that it is illegal to buy, sell or keep parrots captive, these birds are still widely sold and kept as pets in the city. In the last five years, as many as 482 parrots have been rescued across Mumbai — that's an average of 96 parrots a year. In fact, according to data from the government-run animal hospital in Parel, these birds top the list of animals rescued since 2011.

"Among all the rescued animals, parrots are the most common. Despite several raids in areas like Crawford Market, people still manage to sell them. When police and animal activists go to rescue them, the sellers go into hiding, leaving the birds behind. No one comes forward to claim the birds," said Dr JC Khanna, hospital dean.

Smuggled in
A person face imprisonment and fines up to R25,000 for selling parrots. "Caging any wild bird is illegal, as they are all protected by the Wildlife Protection Act. Not only exotic birds fall in this category, but parrots are also a part of it," he added.

Hill parrots, Indian hanging parrot and the rose-ringed parakeet are the most commonly sold species in Mumbai. They are trafficked from surrounding areas like Vashi, Nashik and Pune.

Data from the Parel veterinary hospital indicates a decrease in the parrot trade. The number of parrots rescued has gone down from 120 cases in 2011 to 40 birds in 2015. However, the birds are still sold openly in many areas.

"Few days ago, we raided shops in Crawford market and rescued 10-12 hill parrots. These birds are not available in the city, and are smuggled in from surrounding areas. We are working to increase awareness among people and appeal to the public to inform us if they find parrots caged in anyone's house," said Santosh Kank, Range Forest Department (RFO).

Inhumane treatment
Animal rights activist Anjali Mehra said, "The way these birds are captured is inhumane. The catchers injure one baby bird and keep it on road. On hearing its cry, other parrots come to rescue it but are captured in nets instead. Then they are trafficked to the city in small cells. Many of them die on the way without water and air."

Even after they are sold, many birds cannot handle being trapped in a cage. Parrots have been known to go into depression and display signs of loneliness and neurotic behaviours such as hopping from one foot to another, or plucking their own feathers out in self-mutilation.

Total number of animals rescued from 2011-2015

Average number of parrots rescued every year

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