Justice was served in the West African rainforest recently when 14 African Grey Parrots were confiscated from the grip of a smuggler headed for Nigeria. The birds’ capture from the rainforest canopy symbolizes the brutality of the exotic bird trade here, yet their recovery sends perhaps a more profound message about the priceless contributions of wildlife rehabilitators who seize every opportunity to help.
In order to trap the parrots in Cameroon’s Korup National Park, the smuggler smeared glue on branches high in the canopy and placed a “bait” parrot on one branch to attract other birds. After trapping several parrots in the glue, the smuggler used his machete to cut all of the parrots’ primary feather (or flight feathers) to prevent them from flying away.
“These feathers were some of the worst that our vet team has ever seen and it was clear that the parrots had been held captive for some time,” explains Ainare Idoiaga of the Limbe Wildlife Centre. “During the health checks our vet team pulled out the feather shafts of all damaged primary feathers. This stimulates new feather growth, more than waiting for them to molt naturally which takes up to two years to complete.”
The parrots were in a state of terror when they arrived at the Limbe Wildlife Centre and the team worked very quickly, placing the birds under anesthesia to perform treatment with the least degree of stress. And though those first couple days were very tense for the parrots, it wasn’t long before they began to understand that they were safe.
They Are Singing Again!
“The first day they arrived they were very quiet, but now they fill our quarantine area with song,” Ainare said hopefully. “The parrots are in the quarantine cages so that way we can keep a close eye on them as they begin to heal. Once the primary feathers begin to grow again and the parrots can land softly on the ground, we will move them to our flight cage. Finally, when the parrots are capable of flying the long distances necessary for migration, they will be released.”