On May 4th, a 37-year-old man was stopped by police as he departed a passenger ship in Surabaya, Indonesia, a city open the main island of Java. The man was suspected of wildlife smuggling, but when police opened his suitcase, what they found was shocking even to them.
The police arrested the man after they found he was carrying nearly two dozen live rare birds in his suitcase. The birds - 21 yellow-crested cockatoos and one green parrot - were stuffed in water bottles than packed in the man's luggage. The caps were left off the bottles and the bottoms were cut off with the birds jammed inside so they could not move no matter how fervently they struggled. Nearly all of the birds were soaked from the condensation inside the bottle and many were coated in their own feces.
The cruelly treated birds have since been handed over to Indonesia's natural resource conservation office where they will be sent to rehabilitation if need be and then released back into the wild. The yellow-crest cockatoo, smaller than the more common sulphur-crested cockatoo that are often sold as pets, are native to Indonesia but they are critically endangered according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
The man admitted that two of the birds were for a friend, but denies knowledge of the other animals, even though they were all grouped together. Animal trafficking in Indonesia is an estimated $80 million dollar a year industry, although authorities often bust smugglers trying to take animals away from their native habitat to other countries. The country used to have fairly lax criminal punishments for smugglers, with many only facing a fine or up to a few months in prison. However, after a crackdown in 2010, criminal punishments for smuggling have gotten much harsher. Due to the sheer neglect and animal cruelty in this case, the man - whose name is withheld due to standard Indonesian criminal procedure - may face up to five years in prison.