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World Animal Protection: Traffickers exploit Turkish Airlines in illegal wildlife trade

An investigation by World Animal Protection reveals Turkish Airlines and Turkish Cargo are enabling the exotic pet trade, despite making commitments to tackle wildlife trafficking. The airline and its cargo carrier have been used to illegally transport wild African grey parrots on flights from Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Nigeria and Mali to countries in the Middle East, western and southern Asia.

Millions of wild animals, including parrots are being captured from their habitats or born into captivity, to be sold into the exotic pet trade; a growing multibillion-dollar industry that’s having a devastating impact on wildlife populations worldwide.

Whether traded legally or illegally, keeping wild animals as pets is cruel. The journey they endure is dangerous. Reptiles, small mammals and parrots are cruelly captured from the wild and sold to traders. They are stuffed into crates, often unable to breathe properly or move. Most of these animals will suffocate, starve or succumb to diseases before they even reach their new artificial home as a pet.

Once in homes, there is no realistic way to replicate the space and freedom these animals would have in the wild. Many animals are kept in spaces much smaller than their natural habitats. Their complex dietary needs aren’t met, even if owners have the best intentions to feed them properly. Parrots are known to often pluck out their own feathers due to stress.

Our global research reveals that:

• Three out of four parrots captured in Mexico to be sold as pets die before reaching a buyer

• Nearly one third of all wild animals die during transportation

• A high number of pet snakes, lizards and tortoises die within the first year in the home. With natural age ranges from 8-120 years, it is thought that these deaths mostly occur from stress-related illness related to their captivity.

“Poaching animals for the exotic pet trade is happening on an industrial scale with devastating consequences. Worse still is that the illegal and illicit elements of the trade are often aided by government corruption and inadequate enforcement. Animals suffer at every step of the journey destined to people’s homes” says Cassandra Koenen, Global Head of Wildlife Campaigns at World Animal Protection.

As for the parrots, just last August, African greys were transported by Turkish Airlines between Kinshasa and Kuwait via Istanbul, with more than 60 found dead on arrival.

“Turkish Airlines and Cargo flies to 120 countries, more than any other airline, which is why we are calling on them to cease the transportation of all bird species until we have mutual confidence that African grey parrots and other endangered bird species are not being flown on their planes” adds Koenen.

Most people buy exotic pets because they love animals – but any wild animal in the exotic pet trade experiences extreme suffering. Join the movement to help end the cruel exotic pet trade and call on Turkish Airlines and Cargo to immediately cease flying all birds on their airlines.

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