Customs cage budgie smuggler

A man who tried to smuggle almost 40 live birds and more than 100 eggs into the Maldives has had his cargo seized by customs.

Customs discovered the birds after searching the Maldivian national’s luggage at Male’ International Airport, after he arrived from Bangkok on 20 December. In total there were 109 eggs and 39 birds, nine of them dead, customs officers said.

The birds are now in possession of the Agricultural Ministry’s plant and quarantine unit, which confirmed that most of the birds were canaries and budgerigars.

The birds and eggs were being readied for transportation to Thilafushi to be euthanised, the unit said.

Ali Rilwaan, head of environmental NGO Bluepeace, said the procedure for a situation like this was to determine the birds’ species and ascertain if they were wild.

“Normally these kind of birds are kept as pets, and if there are no health risks I see no reason for the birds to be killed this way,” Rilwaan said.

“For generations, Maldivians have kept birds as pets, and since the introduction of species such canaries and budgies as pets over the last ten years there has been less exploitation of local species,” Rilwaan continued.

Since the spread of bird flu the importing of pet species has been banned, however chicks and ducklings are still brought into the country in large numbers.

According to the plant and quarantine unit, there are no plans to find new homes for the birds and they will be destroyed.