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    Parrots confiscated in Bulgaria returned to Africa for release

    Updated on Monday
    Part 1 – The departure In a landmark project, the first of its kind, thirty-two confiscated African Grey parrots are returned to Africa for rehabilitation and release. Although thousands of confiscated parrots have been successfully released in many parts of the world, this is the first time that parrots confiscated outside of Africa are returned for rehabilitation and release. For the past three years, the World Parrot Trust, in cooperation with the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment and Waters, the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the Sofia Zoo. the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, has worked to relocate to Uganda a group of African Grey Parrots that had been confiscated in Bulgaria in 2010 as they were being illegally imported. It took a long time – first a Court had to determine that the parrots could be permanently confiscated by the Bulgarian authorities, and then a series of bureaucratic procedures were required to allow the birds to be exported from Bulgaria and imported in Uganda – but finally, on 8 March 2013, thirty-two African Grey parrots left Sofia, Bulgaria on a Qatar Airways flight to Entebbe, Uganda. They were accompanied by Dr. Gino Conzo, avian specialist, who had thoroughly tested the parrots for diseases while the birds were at the Sofia Zoo. They arrived safely on 9 March 2013, and are now adapting to their new environment. This species, the most emblematic of all African birds, has been one of the most heavily traded of all parrots worldwide. This has resulted in dramatic declines and local extinctions in most of its historical range. Uganda has been on the forefront of the conservation of African Gray parrots by banning their capture and trade, performing seizures of illegal shipments and releasing confiscated birds. The World Parrot Trust provided financial and organizational support for this effort. Like dozens of similar initiatives supported by the World Parrot Trust through our Fly Free program, this project deters future trafficking in this species, and at the same time restores this endangered parrot to its historic range. We are proud to aid the return of these parrots to Africa and we are very grateful to all the partner organizations and institutions for their impressive embrace of this ground breaking initiative, and hope that more countries will follow this model when dealing with endangered confiscated parrots. A special thank you to Stefan Avramov of the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation for all the help he provided since the very beginning, to Yana Velina of the CITES Management Authority of Bulgaria, to Svilen Stamatov, Bulgarian Animal Transport for his efforts to ensure the save voyage of the parrots, to Qatar Airlines Cargo for its generous financial assistance, to the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary for its support and generosity in accepting to rehabilitate and release the birds at Ngamba Island.

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