Alexandrine confiscation, IndiaWCC

Petrus Riski

Limbe Wildlife Center



Confiscation, Paraguay Salvaje

Intentional drowning in smuggling event Alina Doodnath

Massive confiscations from the live bird trade represent population level and species-level disaster.

What Happens

Poaching techniques vary, but young birds can suffer trauma or exposure from nest disruption, tree-felling, power-tool injury, entanglement and chemical/pharmaceutical dosing.

The ways in which birds are captured from and removed from the wild are innumerable. Traumatic injuries result from the physical action of snares, traps, bird lime and resin “sticky glue” traps, nets, projectiles, removal of young and adults from nests, felling of trees in which nests are found, and many more. These capture methods often result in fractures of wing and leg bones, luxations, soft tissue avulsion/crushing/laceration/maceration; myopathy, hypoglycemia and exhaustion. Psittacines fight back and often are not handled with compassion at capture.

Psittacines may be moved by any or all of the following: on foot, on horseback, moto, vehicle, boat, or aircraft.

Poachers apprehended during water transport may throw birds overboard, resulting in near-drowning in fresh or saltwater, hyper- and hypothermia, respiratory distress and damage from fumes, carbon monoxide and/or dioxide and dust inhalation, lesions of near-suffocation, fractures of wing and leg bones, luxations, soft tissue avulsion/crushing/laceration/maceration, myopathy, hypoglycemia and exhaustion.

Confiscated birds may have been collected in the wild using pellets, bb’s, bullets, shotgun (firing into a flock and collecting all the survivors, similar to dynamiting a reef), darts, arrows, spears, rocks, slingshot ammunition, and so on. Forcible water streams from garden or high-pressure hoses can inflict serious injury. Compressed air or other gases are also used to collect birds.

Thermal burns may result from inexperienced people feeding nestlings and juveniles formula or food that is too hot; or wildfires that have been deliberately set for poaching.

Confiscated or recovered birds may show signs of blunt trauma, fractures, skin infections, filth-related disease, trauma from overcrowding or inadequate transport. They may have spent some time in human care; they may be malnourished and/or supporting an array of pathogens. An overlooked but serious injury is the psychological damage they suffer from the entire poaching process, which ultimately can lead to fearful, aggressive, timid or other maladapted states impairing social development which eventually may negatively affect the success of integration to a flock and successful release.

What to Expect

  • Obvious sick birds

  • respiratory distress is possible with many infections

  • mucous discharge from eyes, nostrils, mouth

  • soiling of feathers, poor grooming

  • Gi issues

  • thin and dehydrated, inability to drink or feed

  • massive mortalities of nestlings

  • mass mortality, peracute death

  • apparently uninjured birds may exhibit extreme docility and uncaring attitude

  • governmental agencies' involvement

  • CITES regulations may be superceded

What to Do


  • Have permission and legal protection IN ADVANCE from the appropriate authorities to work with confiscated birds

  • keep them in a warm, dry, safe and secure environment

  • follow strict biosecurity

  • follow all instructions by authorities and regulatory agencies

  • contact appropriate rescue if/when possible ASAP

  • minimal handling using proper PPE

  • visual or audible contact with other birds is desirable

Likely Outcomes

  • with correct veterinary management, proper rehabilitation techniques, and protection form further poaching, many birds can be saved and released back to the wild

  • life-long sanctuary may be required (see Flowchart:)