NEWS: Thousands of illegally trafficked Indonesian songbirds rescued and released

22 January 2021

Following a series of dramatic enforcement operations our partners in Indonesia, FLIGHT: Protecting Indonesia’s Birds, have helped rescue and release thousands of illegally smuggled song birds in December alone. In total in 2020 they assisted with the seizure and release of over 30,000 illegally trafficked song birds, destined for the pet trade.

The operations were conducted with Provincial Forestry Services, local police, the Jakarta Natural Resources Conservation Agency and customs officials with FLIGHT playing a key role in identifying trafficking routes, and ensuring the animals’ welfare and disease status before safely releasing the birds into protected forests.

The team has also recently opened a new forest monitoring station to help with the deterrence of poachers, who often use cruel glue traps to capture wild birds. To help remove these traps the FLIGHT team conducts patrols through forests and organise outreach to communities surrounding forests to educate them on the harms caused by the illegal trade.

Animals Asia’s Animal Welfare Director Dave Neale said:

“In sheer numbers the majority of the animals we help release back to the wild are birds, not only because they are captured in such tragically large numbers, but also because even after contact with humans they retain their survival skills and are not easily domesticated. There are also more safe release sites for birds than other species. The work FLIGHT does is absolutely incredible and we’re honoured to be able to support them day in and day out as they secure a future for Indonesia’s birds.”

After the birds are captured they are often smuggled in cars, hidden on coaches and taken on boats between islands. The team has been working to intercept poachers and smugglers at every stage of the process. The trade is fuelled by the market for song birds kept as domestic pets, which sometimes take part in singing competitions.

These anti-trafficking operations often turn up other contraband including other animals destined for the illegal wildlife trade, or animal parts such as pangolin scales and tiger skins which are confiscated and the smugglers are prosecuted by the authorities. Recently one smuggler was sentenced to 7 months in prison and a hefty fine for attempting to smuggle 1,045 birds from Sumatra to Java via Bakauheni Port Lampung, with many of the birds being protected species.

Animals Asia is committed to continuing to support this absolutely incredible and important work. Every bird is precious and we want to ensure that the birds of Indonesia continue to have FLIGHT passionately defending and protecting them. Seeing the rescued birds freed in their thousands gives hope that there are people putting kindness in action and bringing light to the dark underbelly of a cruel and unnecessary trade. Thank you for standing with us so we can stand with them.


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