Several newspapers yesterday featured photos of exotic birds intercepted by authorities in Davao City. The Philippine Daily Inquirer showed photos of a cageful of sulfur crested cockatoos and one black palm cockatoo, while Manila Standard Today and The Daily Tribune featured photos of rainbow lorikeets (scanned photo from Manila Standard below, please correct me if I’m wrong on the bird ID). There was no full story accompanying the photos, but the captions said that the birds are scheduled to be put to sleep as a precautionary measure against bird flu. The country remains to be one of the bird flu-free countries in Asia, the papers add.
image scanned from Manila Standard Today, Front Page, July 10, 2007
It’s a good thing, of course, that the country remains free of bird flu, and that the authorities are apparently implementing measures to keep it that way, including being on the watch for smuggled birds. It’s a relief all around, and plus points for the diligent authorities.
However, since this is a biodiversity blog, let’s try to see if from the birds’ point of view, shall we? The birds, who were just minding their own business, were captured from the forest and smuggled into another country, only to be killed because they might be carriers of a deadly disease (They were obviously captured from the wild and not bred in captivity, because if they were they would have come with the proper papers and bred in the proper conditions, thereby eliminating the fear that they were contaminated with the bird flu virus). Now whoever smuggled them in surely lost money and would have to recoup by bringing in more birds the next time, maybe when the bird flu alert has gone down and the wildlife monitoring has relaxed. Into the forest the trappers will go once again, capturing birds, depleting precious populations, putting together a shipment which may or may not end up being scheduled for termination.
On the other hand, if not for the bird flu scare, those birds would probably have slipped through the authorities and ended up for sale in Cartimar or by a roadside somewhere. “Animal lovers” would coo at them and buy them, take them home and keep them in cages their entire lives. The birds would have escaped getting killed, but would have spent life in captivity.
Something is wrong with this picture.
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