Posted by: r.m. | May 4, 2010

Parrots, Lebanon, and illegal trade

From Animals Lebanon – received today

108 parrots from Lebanon confiscated in Bulgaria

Customs officers in Bulgaria confiscated 108 grey parrots that arrived from Lebanon.  The endangered parrots arrived to Sofia airport on a flight from Beirut, and illustrate the urgent need for Lebanon to join CITES, the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species.

The parrots were confiscated after the shipper could not produce all of the CITES documents necessary to move these animals internationally.  After being detained at the Sofia airport, the four plastic containers the parrots were in were transferred to the Sofia zoo.  When the crates were opened one parrot was dead, and the zoo will care for the remaining 107 parrots.

The announcement by the Customs agency did not name the airline the animals were shipped on.  MEA has repeatedly offered assistance to Animals Lebanon when flying endangered animals to sanctuaries, and officials at MEA repeated that they do not fly to Bulgaria and that these animals were not on their aircraft.

Animals Lebanon documented two more cases of parrots being moved through the Beirut airport in late 2009.  One shipment did not meet IATA requirements, old metal tins were used as dishes for water but were completely dry, and birds with broken wings and legs were visible in the large wooden crate.

Calls to cargo officials at the airport revealed that they had seen the parrots at the airport, and witnessed a disagreement between the customs officials at the airport and the person shipping the animals.

Grey parrots can fetch up to $2,000 on the black market in Europe, and the total value of the shipment is estimated at close to $200,000.  Lebanon has issued import permits for grey parrots coming from Africa, and these highly intelligent birds are available in pet shops throughout the country.

Animals Lebanon has written to the Minister of Agriculture asking for an investigation into this matter.  The Minister has made clear his intention of having Lebanon join CITES by 2011, and this case made clear the problems faced by countries not yet part of CITES.  Iraq, Bahrain and Lebanon remain the only countries in the Middle East not part of CITES, and wildlife traders often exploit this.

“We are calling on the Ministry of Agriculture and Customs officials to carry out a complete investigation and to increase efforts to stop the illegal trade,” said Lana El-Khalil. President of Animals Lebanon.  “Monkeys, parrots and other endangered wildlife are openly for sale in pet shops in Lebanon.  Zoos have admitted to bringing in lions from Syria, and there are at least five chimpanzees in Lebanon without CITES permits.  It is clear that not being a member of CITES opens a country up to becoming a hub for the trade of endangered wildlife.”

How you can help

Please send polite letters or postcards to the Minister urging him to continue to take a stand against wildlife smuggling – these do make an impact and are read by the Minister.

Address all letters and postcards to HE Dr. Hussein Hajj Hassan, Minister of Agriculture, Embassies Street, Bir Hassan Sector, Beirut, Lebanon

Donate now to help Animals Lebanon continue to fight against the illegal trade of wildlife and stop more shipments like these from happening.



  1. I believe that the illegal trade of wildlife is more common than we think since not always we’re so lucky that most shipment go unnoticed.

    Awarness about this issue is a must, but i don’t see the ministery of agriculture moved only by a bunch of letters. The actions done should be more public because this is the only way to embarrase ministries to fix something.

  2. the ministry cant be blamed if a criminal tried to smuggle animals,,,

  3. in order to stop this kind of illegal processes, i seriously think that fighting against illegal trade is a must…and in such cases, it is the role of government to work and follow up whats is going on around,,,

  4. illegal trade from every kind is happening all around us!! nothing can’t be done!! some are caught and the rest goes unnoticed, and the ministry could not care less for what is going around!! several organization are after these trades..
    it didn’t stop on animals!!

  5. This is another episode of the “endangered species trade”, last episode we witnessed a crime against lions made by The Monte Carol circus, and now “parrots”! How pathetic. Last episode intentions were made by the ministry of Lebanon to join CITES, however we did not yet witness any move.
    I think that without the efforts of animals of Lebanon we’d still be unaware of such crimes. These crimes are highly filthy from an ethical point of view (Torturing such helpless creatures) and from an ecological point of view (decreasing biodiversity). However I would not suspect such breaches from a country governed by a diseased authority.
    We must all take a stand and in a way or another pressure the ministry, because some authorities need a splash of cold water to wake up and realize that we have reached “the edge.”
    I bet that if we place those rule breakers in the black market of Europe, they would bring back more that $200000 since they represent rare specie of animals.

  6. well, trading of endangered species is happening more often than expected. It’s a really dreadful issue, especially when the one trading the animals doesn’t really recognize the outcome of his actions. ok, he’s moved by the notion of having maximum profit and gaining maximum money, but how can someone be that blunt. Besides, endangered or not, how can he even trade animals that are as magnificiant as parrots? People as such not only don’t they appreciate the survival of species, but they also don’t appreciate neither beauty nor nature…

  7. Trading of animals in general is not acceptable because of the wrong reasons! We bring an animal from south africa to put him in a cage in Lebanon JUST to let people see it while passing in the zoo. Animals are not ornamentation!

    What about endangered species? They are ENDANGERED! What is not understood by this word?! So they are threatenning the presence of a species that might go extinct and not be present around us to see. Smugglers are destroying the natural value of living species by treating them as statues or objects for sale.
    Moreover, Lebanon is waiting for what to move and do an effective deed to stop these actions! When will the lebanese think to join CITES? Are they waiting for the extinction of the endangered species to be done completely. It will be worthless to keep waiting!

  8. i think this is a small sample of illegal trade..and the whole blame is on the ministry of agriculture!!

  9. If the ministry doesn’t care about people lives do you think it will care about birds lives? i know this may be a pessimistic approach to what’s happening but nothing can be more realistic. Unfortunately, everything became part of the dirty game of trading and collecting money in any way; we can hardly be part of this universal far unhumanistic anti ecological game!

  10. i oudbt the ministry will follow through even if it does, there are many “illegal” activities that are higher in priority. however if the public becomes aware of the animal smuggling facts in Lebanon, then there would be a higher strain on the illegal wildlife trade. a complete cessastion at this stage would be impossible

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