More than 250 Alexandrine parakeets were seized from a bus near the Babughat bus stand on Sunday morning.
Forest department officials said the bus had started from Ranchi and the birds were to be delivered at several places across the city, including Galiff Street in north Calcutta where birds are sold on Sundays.
“Trading in indigenous birds is prohibited. Alexandrine parakeets are protected under the wildlife protection act,” a forest department official said.
“We were tipped off that a large number of birds were being smuggled in from Ranchi. We had specific information about the bus, on which the cages had been loaded. Our men spread around in the Babughat area. They kept watch and as soon as the cages were unloaded, they surrounded the bus and apprehended the man who was bringing them,” the official said.
Toufiq Alam, who allegedly brought the birds to the city, and Narayan Singh, the driver of the bus, have been arrested. The Bankshal court remanded them in judicial custody.
“The Alexandrine parakeet is protected under Schedule I of the wildlife protection act,” said a senior forester.
Schedule I animals enjoy the highest protection. A person convicted of trading, killing or hunting a Schedule I animal faces at least seven years’ imprisonment, the official said.
The website of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) mentions that the Alexandrine parakeet is near endangered and “occurs in moist or semi-evergreen forest in lowlands, hills as well as low lying mountains. It is known for its ability to mimic sounds, including human speech”.
“The population is suspected to be in decline owing to trade and to widespread forest destruction, although rates of decline are unlikely to be higher than moderate, as this species is tolerant of secondary and degraded habitats,” the website adds.
Samik Dutta, a conservationist working for an NGO, said that despite raids by the forest department, birds protected under the wildlife act are sold on Galiff Street every Sunday.