In Indonesia, Critically Endangered Birds Found Smuggled In Plastic Bottles

According to CNN, at least 21 cockatoos were recently discovered stuffed into 1.5 liter plastic water bottles at an Indonesian port during an anti-smuggling operation.

Seven of the birds handed over later died.

The cockatoos, which are described as critically endangered, were cut free of the containers by Indonesian customs officials at Tanjung Perak port in Surabaya, Indonesia, after they spotted the consignment of illegally-trafficked birds.

They may have been part of a larger smuggling operation.

Harbor police caught a passenger disembarking with two birds packed in gasoline “jerry cans.”  Police searched the boat and found 21 more birds, stuffed into water bottles and packed in travel bags. according to CNN.

Lily Djafar, spokeswoman for the Tanjung Perak police, told CNN it was not the first case of its kind.

In April, there were two cases of animal smuggling at the port and more than 200 rare and endangered animals, including birds of paradise, reptiles, sugar gliders — known locally as tupai loncat — and cockatoos were seized. In both cases, the suspects were boat crew members, Djafar said.

“The raging practice of online wildlife trade has become a serious threat for wildlife conservation, because most of the traded animals were captured from the wild, not from captive breeding as claimed by many dealers,” said Swasti Prawidya Mukti in an earlier statement.

Mukti works for Profauna, a nonprofit dedicated to the protection of forest and wildlife in Indonesia.

“Wildlife crime has become a transnational business. Therefore, governments should take this more seriously as such act… clearly (violates) our national law,” she said.