Hundreds of endangered bird species, valued at over €1 million, were recovered in a joint Moroccan-Spanish-Portuguese police operation to uncover the illicit wildlife trafficking.
Rabat – According to the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement (Europol), the black market for bird trafficking is growing and Morocco is creating a high demand.
A recent investigation on the criminal activity led to the arrest of 28 bird traffickers and the recovery of 280 endangered birds, valued at over €1 million.
Across the Spanish cities of Malaga, Murcia, Granada, Alicante, and Asturias, ORATIX investigations uncovered the covert workings of the illegal business.
According to the Europol report, buses headed from Spain to the African continent would stow away the birds for delivery with the support of a Moroccan citizen working for a travel agency.
Operatives involved in the bird trafficking network used forged documents to sell birds to North African buyers, in particular Morccans.
The network also used a fabricated online business that would generate sales and receive payments, but never deliver the birds.
All of the birds the police recovered are endangered species protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Among the species discovered in the operation were macaws, parrots, and cockatoos.
At least 50% of parrot species are categorized as endangered. Twenty-five percent of these species are nearing extinction and CITES protects all but two parrot species — either by prohibiting or strictly regulating the sales of the birds.
Similarly, macaw species also face the threat of human captures from the wild. More than half of the 17 species of macaws are critically endangered.
Other human activities, such as deforestation, are contributing to the loss of bird species.
Cockatoos in particular have suffered from the wreckage of an ecosystem and habitat destruction that threatens their existence.
Bird trafficking operatives can sell some species of the exotic birds for several thousand euros on the black market.
Europol states that the demand driving the illicit trade comes primarily from collectors and breeders, but also from citizens who desire the birds as pets.
Europol and officials involved in the operation affirm their dedication to preventing environmental crimes and putting an end to the damaging of ecosystems and wildlife.