Bahraich police seized 2,000 parrots trapped from Kartaniya Ghat Sanctuary recently; arrested men confessed the birds were to be taken to Nepal for consumption in restaurants.
By Piyush Srivastava
Lucknow, September 13: After tigers, it is the parrots who are in danger — in Uttar Pradesh at least. A recent crackdown on the Indo-Nepal border has exposed a parrot smuggling racket, with the Bahraich police seizing about 2,000 birds that were trapped from the Kartaniya Ghat Sanctuary.
The parrots, belonging to the Rodriguez Parakeet family, were reportedly being taken to Nepal, where they are said to be a favoured delicacy especially among the foreign tourists. Some of the birds are even sent to China from there.
Under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, catching or killing parrots is an offence.
According to reports, on the night of August 30, the Bahraich SP, R P Singh, received a tip-off from Manish Rastogi, vice-president of the Hindu Yuva Vahini, that some residents of Chandpur area in the town had caged hundreds of parrots and were planning to take them to Nepal the next morning.
In a late night raid, the police arrested four persons and seized the parrots. Two of the arrested have been identified as Habibullah and Bahadoor.
When interrogated, the men reportedly confessed that the birds had been caught from the Kartaniya Ghat Sanctuary in Bahraich. They were to be smuggled across to Kathmandu, via Raxaul and Patna in Bihar.
Although Bahraich in close to the border, the men preferred this long bus route via Bihar because there are less security checks. Also, these men had no direct contact with the hotels in Nepal. So they would sell the birds to middlemen in Raxaul, who would then take them across the border. The men admitted that many of the birds died of suffocation during the journey, in which they were transported in polythene bags.
Parrot smuggling is said to be a lucrative business, with the local Indian catcher getting Rs 100-300 per bird. In Nepal, the cost goes up to an unbelievable US$ 500 for 10 parrots.
Bahraich police officials felt this latest catch could expose an international racket spread across several countries. ‘‘We have some clues about people who collect parrots in Bihar and take them to Nepal. We are in touch with the Bihar police and the racket may soon be busted,’’ said a Sub-Inspector.
Meanwhile, Ramesh Pandey, Divisional Forest Officer of Kartaniya Ghat Sanctuary, said: ‘‘These birds belong to the Rodrigue Parakeet family. After taking Court’s permission we released all the seized parrots.’’
According to forest department sources, the culinary fascination for parrots in foreign countries has taken a toll on various species. Also valued for their feathers in the fashion market, only 70 of the total 332 parrot species exist in the world at present, claimed a senior forest official. Dr R L Singh, former Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Lucknow, pointed out that the government had already declared the Blue Winged Parakeet as endangered.
When contacted, State Chief Wildlife Warden Mohammad Ehsan said he was not aware about the recent catch in Bahraich. ‘‘But yes, parrot meat is liked by the Chinese and many other countries,’’ he added.