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Endangered Species Smuggled to Europe in a Suitcase

We continue with our updating of this site with posts from an older conservation blog, originally posted on October 15, 2016. For the next two weeks we will continue to highlight Paraguay, because Dr. LoraKim Joyner is now there in the field, working once again to protect the parrots of Paraguay.

Nesting blue-fronted amazon parrot temporarily flushed from her nest

Upon arriving in Paraguay in September, I was told the news that only the week before a group of turquoise-fronted parrot chicks and eggs from Paraguay had been confiscated at the airport in Madrid (photo above of adult, video of chicks and eggs in suitcase below). They were being transported to Hong Kong in a suitcase that was artfully equipped with a heater and ventilator to keep the eggs and chicks on track for hatching and growth. The is evidence of the sophistication of the international parrot trade, from which birds are bled out of the Americas to feed the appetites of those in other regions, such as Asia and the Mid-East.

We were told that this is the same buyer of parrots who is responsible for much of illegal parrot trade in the Concepcion area of Paraguay. We had hopes this confiscation would diminish the taking of parrots in the area, but the poacher with whom we spoke (who told us that his “buyer had fallen”) was on his way to pick up Hyacinth macaw eggs. Hyacinths are an endangered species, and in this area of Paraguay, we only saw one pair of birds during the two weeks we were there.

Reportedly the Chinese buyer, and others, work out of Cuidad de Este, known as the base for smuggling operations for the three countries that border here: Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. There was a shootout the day I arrived in the country and, actually, reports are that most days someone is killed in this city known for trafficking not just parrots, but drugs and people.

Throughout our survey of parrots in this area we heard time and time again of all the parrots poached here, and how there is no to little enforcement of Paraguay’s wildlife protection laws. With corruption and violence in the area, I wonder how we can ever hope to work here, let alone have an impact. But even still, we tried to do what we could, for the beauty of the parrots remain, and as long as they do, we must be there to protect and cherish them.

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