BirdLife International is calling for a total ban on wild bird imports into Europe to try and stop the spread of the dangerous H5N1 avian flu virus. However, it warns that this is likely to increase smuggling, which must be policed. In conjunction with the ban, they call on the entire world to intensify efforts to stop illegal trade in wild-caught birds.
This trade involves millions of bird annually, and has caused at least 117 bird species to be threatened with extinction in the wild.A recent bust found eight birds with H5N1 in a consignment of over 1,000 birds in Taiwan, having been smuggled in from China.
An imported parrot has died in the United Kingdom after being quarantined with Taiwanese birds, but as Taiwan has been officially free of bird flu since 1993, the disease is suspected to have originated with Chinese smuggling operations.