Game wardens and police seized 214 protected animals from a Sangre Grande businessman on Friday.
Conservator of Forests, Denny Dipchansingh, who coordinated the exercise said the businessman has not yet been arrested or charged as the investigation was at a ‘sensitive’ stage. He said the man was assisting the officers in their investigation.
In an interview with Guardian Media yesterday, Dipchansingh said while he could not give the value of the birds, several of the species are sold on the black market for thousands of US dollars.
The seized birds were of a variety of species, including the Blue TwaTwa, Chestnut Macaws, Eastern Rosellas, Red Head Parrots, Jenday Conures, Galah Cockatoos, Bronze Winged Parrots, African Grey Parrots, Red-shouldered Macaws, Red Fan Parrots, Bengalese Finches, Gouldian Finches, Red-bellied Macaws, Painted Conures, Brown Throated Conures, Blue Headed Pionus, yellow Crowned Parrots, Umbrella Cockatoo, green Winged Macaws and Scarlet Macaws.
Dipchansingh said the birds were handed over to the Emperor Valley Zoo for care and protection.
He said the Forestry Division recently welcomed 25 new wardens and was continuing its quest to dismantle the illegal wildlife trade.
“We are continuing to make dents in the illegal wildlife trade and if charges are brought in this matter, this would be one of the biggest busts of the year.”
He sent out a warning to the population about buying animals on the black market.
“I am warning the public that by purchasing some of these animals, especially through the black market, they run the risk of introducing pests and diseases into the country that can be harmful to our birds, other animals and humans as well,” Dipchansingh said.
He said the Forestry Division will continue to monitor the animal trade and pet shops.
Dipchansingh said the division also works closely with the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and the Customs Division to clamp down on the sale of protected animals.