Bird in the hand

Smuggler nabbed at airport with dozens of parrots in his suitcase

Man arrives on flight from Belgium with 28 rosellas, a species prohibited for import to Israel due to ecological concerns

Rosella parrots found concealed in the suitcase of an Israeli man at Ben Gurion Airport, June 21, 2023. (Israel Nature and Parks Authority)
Rosella parrots found concealed in the suitcase of an Israeli man at Ben Gurion Airport, June 21, 2023. (Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

A passenger arriving at Ben Gurion Airport was found to have dozens of valuable, prohibited parrots hidden in his suitcase, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority said Thursday in a joint statement with tax authorities.

It was the third time in the past month that officials have foiled attempts to smuggle animals into the country.

The 28 rosella parrots, worth about 10,000 euros, were discovered on Wednesday in the luggage of a 22-year-old Israeli man who arrived on a flight from Belgium.

Tax inspectors asked to look at the suspect’s belongings as he passed through the passenger arrival area after claiming his baggage.

Inspectors discovered the birds, which are not permitted to be brought into Israel. It is illegal to sell or be in possession of rosellas due to concerns about their ecological impact.

Tax authorities immediately summoned INPA officials who questioned the suspect, a resident of the south of the country.

The brightly colored birds were handed over to the Veterinary Service, the statement said.

Rosellas are native to Australia and feed on seeds and fruit. They can compete with local species for food and tree cavities where they build nests.

A study published in 2019 estimated there are about 10,000 ring-necked parakeets and monk parakeets, non-native birds, living in the wild in Israel. The birds were originally brought in as pets and then either escaped or were released by their owners.

Earlier this month a combined sting operation by the Border Police, customs and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority netted an Israeli trying to smuggle 21 protected reptiles into Israel. The reptiles were found in the suspect’s luggage as he was exiting the baggage reclaim area.

In late May, a woman was caught at Ben Gurion Airport trying to smuggle dozens of snakes and other reptiles into the country, including a dangerous anaconda, one of the largest species of constricting snakes in the world.

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