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By Donaldson Rusa

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, May 11) - Customs and police officers in the Solomon Islands Western Province confiscated and set free 28 parrots and cockatoos from a foreign ship.

The China-registered logging ship, its skipper and crewmembers were detained at the Noro Port for three days last week but released after settling the SBD$1,800 fine (US$244).

Wolfgang Jedzini, a Noro Customs Officer who detained the ship, confirmed yesterday that the smuggling attempt was thwarted following a tip off from Taro Police in the Choiseul Province.

The ship had been loading round logs from different logging operations at Choiseul and Western Provinces before traveling to the international seaport Tuesday last week for usual clearance.

"The captain initially denied having any birds onboard the ship. But a thorough search with assistance from two police officers and a Quarantine staff, found the birds," he said.

Jedzini said two of the birds were found inside a cabin whilst the rest inside the cargo hold among the logs.

The red and green parrots and white cockatoos were seized and released into the wild, although few died of apparent hot condition inside the ship, he said.

"It was the first such case but we believe different species of endangered and protected birds have slipped past undetected.

"I believe the practice may have been going on for sometimes but had never been reported or detected by responsible authority.

"We should work together to prevent our bird species and other endangered wild life from being smuggled out of this country," the Customs officer said.

The Solomon Star understands the birds were acquired from locals in exchange of cash and other commodities such as chainsaws, generic drugs, DVD/VCD splitters and ceramic items.

Jedzini said those who wish to export local bird species and other wildlife should obtain permission from the responsible government authority "and should not resort to illegal practices."

The government’s Environment Division confirmed that parrots are regulated species and should be protected against illegal trade.

"The Wildlife Protection and Management Act 1998 strictly prohibits the trade of such species except in exceptional circumstances where the exporter had a valid license," an environment spokesperson said.

He conceded that the illegal trade of bird species to logging ships is a major concern and should be stopped immediately.

There are procedures to go about such trade, he said.

May 12, 2005

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