23 animals smuggled from Indonesia die

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/28 February) — Twenty-three of the 79 exotic birds and animals from Indonesia that were rescued by maritime policemen while being smuggled to this city a week ago have reportedly died due to improper handling and their failure to immediately adapt to the local environment.

Dr. Castor Leo Ejercito, veterinary quarantine officer here, said Friday the seized birds and animals succumbed to starvation and the stress that they suffered during the grueling sea travel or by motorboat to the area.

He said the casualties comprised 18 birds, three sugar gliders and two Indonesian snakes, which died while being quarantined here.

“They suffered so much during the travel. Most of them were not fed properly and eventually died due to starvation,” he said.

Ejercito said some of the birds, which comprised rainbow lorikeets and dusky lories, died after failing to adapt to their new environment.

But the official said the critically endangered palm and white cockatoos, pesquet’s parrot and long beaked echidna or ant eater have so far adapted to their pens at the quarantine office and will likely survive.

He said they are closely monitoring the two red necked wallabies due to problems with their eating or feeding behavior.

Maritime policemen rescued the exotic birds and animals after intercepting over the weekend a motorboat that reportedly originated from Halmahera in Indonesia off the coasts of Glan town in Sarangani.

Chief Insp. Jemifer Gamido, chief of the 1201st maritime police station here, said they found inside the motorboat a number of cages containing assorted wildlife species, including cockatoos, echidnas and wallabies.

He said they specifically recovered 31 rainbow lorikeets, 24 dusky lories, five green lizards, four live and two dead sugar gliders, three Indonesian snakes, three pesquet’s parrots, two red-necked wallabies, two white cockatoos, two palm cockatoos and one long-beaked echidna.

The maritime police and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) protected areas and wildlife division earlier filed charges for illegal transport of wildlife against five suspects who were identified as Leonilo and Leonel Lumokso, Uswaldo Mamasanta, Benson Karil and Alvin Alihan, all residents of Barangay Calumpang here.

Ejercito said they have taken samples from the dead birds to determine whether they were infected with the deadly avian influenza virus or bird flu.

He said the national government has a standing policy since 2004 against importation or the transport of birds and poultry products from Indonesia, some parts of which are considered as bird flu hotspots.

“With that policy as basis, the BAI (Bureau of Animal Industry) director issued an order for the immediate disposal of these birds,” he said. (MindaNews)