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| Last Updated:: 31/12/2014

Wings clipped: Chennai turns into hub for illegal bird trade

 CHENNAI: While the city is a home to several migratory birds, it has also emerged as a hub for illegal bird trade. This year, close to 1,700 birds was rescued from traders and poachers by the state wildlife department and NGOs.

On Saturday, a team of animal lovers rescued 11 cattle egrets from a gypsy colony in Avadi. Volunteers from People for Cattle in India also found some dead birds which they said would have been sold to a butcher.

According to wildlife department and NGOs involved in such rescue acts, 1,023 black-headed and white-headed munias, 500 Indian rose-ringed parakeets, 50 alexandrine parakeets, 100 mynas and 50 pigeons were rescued this year from bird sellers. Besides, few exotic birds like macaws, cockatiels and cockatoos, which are in great demand among pet lovers, were also freed. A few weeks back, Blue Cross of India rescued 100 Indian parakeets near Koyembedu bus stand. The wildlife range office at Velachery found 47 parakeets from a market in Broadway.


"Most of the birds on illegal sale are adopted as pets or worse eaten up. At times, the poachers are also the traders. We have rescued about 1,700 birds this year alone," said Dawn Williams of Blue Cross.


Indigenous birds are protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 that makes them illegal to catch, kill, buy or sell and adopt them. Trade in foreign birds are restricted by CITES (Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species), an international protocol to which India is a signatory. It gives protection to migratory species.


NGO volunteers point out that in markets - like Maskan Chavady at Broadway, Thiruvottiyur and Friday market at Pallavaram -birds are smuggled and unethically bred for regular trading. Pet shops scattered across the city are also thriving doing such business. "Birds in these markets are dumped together in a cage and at times their wings are clipped to prevent them from flying," said Dr Chockalingam from Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.


Birds like parakeets are sold at Rs 500 a pair, munias at 750 to 1500, fighting roosters are sold at Rs 4000 to 5000 and the exotic birds range between 1 lakh to 1.5 lakhs.