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Social media ads lead to rescue of 24 parakeets

Three teams of officers from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau swooped down on the three houses posing as buyers

By Snehal Sengupta in Calcutta

  • Published 4.11.19, 2:40 AM
  • Updated 4.11.19, 2:40 AM
Some of the birds that were seized on Sunday
Some of the birds that were seized on Sunday Telegraph picture

Blue hand-tamed parakeet for sale

Beautiful white and yellow parakeets for sale

 Advertisements on social media led wildlife officials to three houses in Behala, Rajpur and off the EM Bypass and helped rescue at least 24 parakeets in different colours.

Three teams of officers from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau swooped down on the three houses posing as buyers.

“We were tracking posts on social networking sites and came across a man in Rajpur who claimed he dealt in exotic pets. The man had put up seven parakeets on sale and we managed to get in touch with him,” an officer said.

A deal was struck and the team went to the man’s house, where they found two green parakeets, two blue parakeets and one white parakeet.

Another team landed up in Behala and rescued eight parakeets.

The third team raided a house off the Bypass and rescued at least nine birds.

Agni Mitra, the regional deputy director, wildlife crime control bureau, said the raids and consequent rescue were part of a concerted effort called Operation Wildnet.

“We have put together a special team that is monitoring the internet and looking out for such advertisements,” Mitra said.

“The shift has been gradual but steady. More and more buyers and sellers are getting in touch with each other using these websites. Online channels provide wildlife smugglers with an unregulated, anonymous and virtually unlimited outreach.”

All the rescued birds have been sent to the Wild Animal Rescue and Transit Facility Centre at Baisakhi, in Salt Lake, and the zoo hospital, a forest official said.

These are mostly parakeets, they said. Trading in parakeet is banned.

The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, bans trade in wildlife but wildlife trafficking has emerged as a multi-billion dollar trade. Southeast Asia is the largest market for both wild animals and products from India. Calcutta has emerged as a favourite corridor for the smugglers, a forest official said.

“The consignments change hands multiple times before reaching their final destinations,” an official said.

In June this year, a three-month-old lion cub trapped inside a nylon bag and three white-headed langurs — two adults and a juvenile — were rescued from a Mahindra Scorpio on Belghoria Expressway while they were being allegedly smuggled from the Benapole-Petrapole border to western India.

A pair each of hoolock gibbons and palm civets and 42 exotic birds of different species were seized from a car on Basanti Highway last year. The menagerie was to be delivered near Science City.

Many wildlife parts, including elephant tusks and pangolin scales, have been seized from Calcutta and neighbouring districts in recent past.

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