News24

African Grey parrots 'froze or suffocated'

2011-01-21 07:50

Durban - An investigation into the deaths of hundreds of African Grey parrots on a flight from Johannesburg to Durban on Christmas Eve points to possible carbon monoxide poisoning, as well as the possibility that they froze to death.

This is according to Dr Tertius Bergh, acting director of veterinary services, quarantine and public health in the Department of Agriculture.

The deaths of the parrots, which were caught in the Democratic Republic of Congo last year and imported for breeding purposes, caused shockwaves when the news broke last week.

According to Bergh, 749 African Greys were removed from the state's quarantine facility in Kempton Park on December 24.

Legal dispute

The parrots were shipped on a 1time flight to Durban, where they were to be held in a private quarantine station, because the state facility was to close from December 25 to February 1.

The birds were moved on instruction from Hendrik Matthews, a breeder from Rooodepoort, amidst a court battle with another bird breeder, Ben Moodie, regarding ownership of the parrots.

They were worth about R2m.

When the birds arrived at King Shaka airport in Durban, over 90% of them were dead. Of the remaining 71 birds, 13 died within the next few days, said Bergh.

The rest of the birds are doing well.

According to Bergh, the state vet and a bird expert performed post-mortems and tissue tests.

Air conditioning

No decisive conclusion was reached, but the "consensus clearly points to carbon monoxide poisoning or that they froze to death", Bergh said.

Anya Potgieter, 1time spokesperson, said on Thursday the air conditioning in the cargo hold was switched on.

"If it had been switched off, a little dog in the same cargo hold would also have frozen to death," she said.

Regarding the possibility of poisonous gas being to blame, she explained earlier that the air in the passenger cabin is circulated through the cargo hold and doesn't come into contact with poisonous gas.

Comments
  • tdk25 - 2011-01-21 08:03

    Moodie and Mathews should be jailed!!!! They are no better than rhino poachers...bastards

      RonelEksteen - 2011-01-21 08:20

      i agree with you!

      AJ - 2011-01-21 11:36

      Actually they are better than rhino poachers, as poaching is illegal and a criminal act, whilst these 2 have it seems acted in accordance with the law (the state had the birds in quarantine and released them to the men for a start). You may find it distasteful as do I but there is a huge difference between people acting within the law and people acting outside the law. Damn I'm getting deja vu here.....

  • Fat Rucker - 2011-01-21 08:10

    Look, I took the liberty of examining that parrot when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been NAILED there.

      Janine - 2011-01-21 08:56

      I knew that someone would come up with a Monty Python comment!

      daboss247365 - 2011-01-21 09:43

      There, it moved....

      Fat Rucker - 2011-01-21 11:30

      No, he didn't, that was you hitting the cage!

      AJ - 2011-01-21 11:38

      @Fat Rucker: "No, he didn't, that was you hitting the cage!" - brings back memories, ha ha. Between Monty P and the Blackadder lads....hysterical.

      AJ - 2011-01-21 11:43

      @Fat Rucker: "No, he didn't, that was you hitting the cage!" - brings back memories, ha ha. Between Monty P and the Blackadder lads....hysterical.

  • DeonL - 2011-01-21 08:12

    The birds would have not been moved if it was not for the state fascility that was to be closed. Another case of bad maintanance?

  • Aj - 2011-01-21 08:25

    All these people bitching and moaning about animal rights. We as a society are defined by the way we treat everything below us. These parrots died suspiciously and they are looking into it, now putting them in the same league as rhino poachers... that's just emotional idiot'ism. I wish that was a real word :)

      DeonL - 2011-01-21 08:50

      I agree, this was a sad incident and was completely legal, unlike rhino poaching.

  • rynok - 2011-01-21 08:27

    Dogs can handle much more extreme temperatures than these birds.

      Valkerie - 2011-01-21 11:05

      I have to ask the same question: one is mamalian, the other bird. Surely the travel needs for either should be investigated further? Sounds to me like someone just simply didn't have the necessary knowledge in how the birds should be transported.... Very sad.

  • John - 2011-01-21 08:30

    1 time you suck !!!!! i hope no one flys with you and that the public boycott you .

      roboman1 - 2011-01-21 10:13

      oh John, grow up. At the price 1 time charges surely the birds did not expect climate control

  • Michele Klemp - 2011-01-21 08:31

    I wonder what 1Time's excuse is going to be now? The trade in endangered animals MUST be stopped immediately, and "middle men" like 1Time need to stop transporting these animals in order to make the trade more difficult. I, for one, will NEVER use 1Time again, even if it means paying more for my ticket!

      DeonL - 2011-01-21 08:48

      African Grey's are not endangered, about every animal shop in the country has 10 or more of these birds.

      roboman1 - 2011-01-21 10:15

      Childish and emotional rhetoric Michelle. An error was made somewhere, we do not even know if perhaps the birds were fed something incorrectly prior to loading. Grow up girl

      Crispy_Duck - 2011-01-21 10:37

      @DeonL: African greys are currently under review to be moved onto CITES I status because of the rampant harvesting that is happening in. It is reported that the populations in Tanzania and Kenya have been all but wiped out. This has resulted in the remaining bird populations in the DRC being exploited. The US an EU have a ban on the import of African Greys captured in the wild. Once again SA is being used as the middle man...just like in the drug trade.

      Ingwe - 2011-01-21 12:23

      South Africa is one of few countries that still allow wild caught African Grey Parrots to be imported. To top it all off, this is their breeding season in Africa, so how many chicks have died as a direct result of their parents being captured? Another interesting factor is the fact that these birds mate for life. How many pairs have been broken up?

      DeonL - 2011-01-21 12:29

      Crispy-Duck. You can't compare illegal drugs / poaching to legal import of animals. You and I might not like it, but it is still legal. A lot of News24 readers don't like JM or JZ, but they are still legal leaders.

  • Naomi - 2011-01-21 08:53

    I THINK ITS A DISGRACE THAT HUMANS STILL THINK THEY CAN DO WHAT THEY WANT WITH ANIMALS AND NATURE FOR THAT MATTER.THESE BIRDS SHOULD HAVE STAYED FREE IN THEIR ENVIRONMENT.SURELY THERE IS ENOUGH AFRICAN GREY PARROTS IN CAPTIVITY IN THIS COUNTRY FOR NEW BLOODLINES.WHY DESTROY THE WILD POPULATION?

      Fat Rucker - 2011-01-21 09:07

      Best you go and live in a cave then, Naomi! Human civilisation is what it is precisely BECAUSE we're capable of "doing what we want with nature". I take it you don't wear clothes, use electricity or eat farmed food...

      focus.ntfc - 2011-01-21 09:10

      Ai jai jai .... the Bible tells us that MAN is in charge of the Earth and its inhabitants on land and in the sea .... so yes MAN determines the rights of animals ... deal with it

      Fat Rucker - 2011-01-21 09:18

      No, Focus. The bible has stuff all to do with it. Evolution of superior intelligence has everything to do with it. Besides, this evolved intelligence enabled those ancient goat herders to write their fables about the Sky Wizzard.

      Shistirrer - 2011-01-21 09:36

      Fat Rucker, you as an individual are living proof that there is a God. If it were up to natural selection and evolved intelligence only, I seriously doubt you would even have been conceived.

      Irie Fairie - 2011-01-21 09:47

      @Fat Rucker. Human civilisation is what it is precisely BECAUSE we're capable of "doing what we want with nature" Nature is far more powerful than us tiny mortals Fat Rucker. I'm sure the dinosaurs also thought they were invincible, and look where they are now. We will see how superior 'we' are when the floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, solar flares and meteor showers hits us.

      Irie Fairie - 2011-01-21 09:50

      @Fat Rucker. Human civilisation is what it is precisely BECAUSE we're capable of "doing what we want with nature" Nature is far more powerful than us tiny mortals Fat Rucker. I'm sure the dinosaurs also thought they were invincible, and look where they are now. We will see how superior 'we' are when the floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, solar flares and meteor showers hits us.

      roboman1 - 2011-01-21 10:20

      @Shistirrer - GREAT response to Fat Rucker, you are so right, and that is the chirp of the day.

      Willa - 2011-01-21 11:26

      @out of focus ntf - that is so lame mate. Really. Is that the best you could come up with?

      Fat Rucker - 2011-01-21 11:39

      @ Irie Fairie. I'm not implying that we'ere capable of controlling ALL facets of nature, but simply pointing out that we, as a species, are capable of manipulating and exploiting it to our advantage e.g. plant breeding for crops and fossil fuels for energy. In no way did I suggest we could prevent natural disasters, although the Thames flood barrier is a good example of human intervention in this case.

      Fat Rucker - 2011-01-21 11:41

      @ Shistirrer - doesn't reflect well on the creative abilities of your god then either, does it...:-)

      Shistirrer - 2011-01-21 12:27

      Fat Rucker, that's precisely where you are wrong. It takes the creative abilities of God to produce someone like you, as living proof of His love for all creatures, irrespective how twisted and pitiful they may be.

      Fat Rucker - 2011-01-21 12:41

      Talking of proof, Shistirrer, have you got any proving the existence of god's creative ways? And please don't cite the goat herder manual as proof... Here's the best christian proof I've come accross so far: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLqQttJinjo

      Shistirrer - 2011-01-21 13:30

      Easy answer. Open your eyes and take a look around you (provided your head is out of your ass). Now try to convince yourself that all you see happened by chance. Yes, I'm talking about LIFE. Imagine two or more chemicals conspiring and deciding: Let's combine into proteins and form DNA ribbons, that will give us the ability to live and procreate and THINK! Ilya Prigogine, recipient of two Nobel Prizes in chemistry, wrote: “The statistical probability that organic structures and the most precisely harmonized reactions that typify living organisms would be generated by accident, is zero.” Professor Francis Crick, awarded the Nobel Prize for the discovery of DNA, wrote: "An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going." So I wish YOU good luck in explaining it to me.

      Fat Rucker - 2011-01-21 13:58

      Oh dear. No evidence then, I take it. Let me ask you a another question - who created your god? He must be quite a complex being, cleverly creating everything around us. Perhaps he came about by chance? I do actually believe that our world developed through chance and, given the size of the universe, it IS statistically probable; in fact, there's a good chance that it's happened elsewhere too! Francis Crick also said, "Christianity may be okay between consenting adults in private, but should not be taught to young children."

      Fat Rucker - 2011-01-21 14:01

      By the way, Shistirrer, James Watson (who discovered the DNA helix with Crick) had the following to say when asked by a student if he believed in God: "Oh, no. Absolutely not... The biggest advantage to believing in God is you don't have to understand anything, no physics, no biology. I wanted to understand." Particularly apt in your case, don't you think?

      Shistirrer - 2011-01-21 14:22

      Oh, so you are one of those "either science or God and never the twain shall meet" types. Sorry to disappoint you, I DO understand biology and physics and have a healthy interest in them. I am also an evolutionist, and do NOT believe the earth was created in 24x7 hours - Genesis is a brilliant piece of work telling the tale of the creation of Earth as we know it, and the 7 days (eras) are in perfect correspondence to scientific evidence. What I do believe, is that science and religion are not exclusive, and the two actually go hand in hand quite well. Religion makes the wonder of biology, chemistry and physics so much more awesome, and fills in the gap of the "scientifically inexplicable" - like how did life originate without intelligent design? (Which, by the way, you could not explain to me).

      Fat Rucker - 2011-01-21 14:32

      Ah, so you like to have your cake and eat it! Science and religion are NOT compatible, ESPECIALLY when you believe in intelligent design. Your argument that whatever is sufficiently complex in the world requires a designer, requires that its designer (who would presumably be even more complex) also be designed – so who designed the designer? And who designed the designer of the designer? And so on, to infinity.

      Fat Rucker - 2011-01-21 14:49

      Just for you, Shistirrer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lcrq5OOkQdk

  • Nedkelly - 2011-01-21 09:00

    Somebody has to take responsibility for this tragedy and must be prosectued accordingly. This country cannot continue with cruelty and neglect of animals without consequence. Surely there is somebody in power that can sort this out and prosecute. If these monsters are allowed to get away with it - it will never end.

      roboman1 - 2011-01-21 10:53

      where is the monster? and where is this ever going to lead to prosecution? Silly people buy these birds, which creates a market. These were licensed and brought in with permits. Please read the facts before making such an infantile comment. And I am opposed to the trading in these birds for silly domestic pets, so I am not supportive of anyone in this instance, but really just wish people would deal with facts prior to commenting

      DeonL - 2011-01-21 12:35

      Sometimes accidents happen and no one can be blamed, like the cyclist yesterday. Saying that, I do think that the state fascility that was temp closed can also be blamed, why did they not wait till the birds qaurantine was over before closing?

      steven - 2011-01-21 14:16

      lol

  • focus.ntfc - 2011-01-21 09:04

    If I was the breeder I would have got the parrots to fly to Durban themselves ... much cheaper and low risk ...

  • Irie Fairie - 2011-01-21 09:51

    @Fat Rucker. Human civilisation is what it is precisely BECAUSE we're capable of "doing what we want with nature" Nature is far more powerful than us tiny mortals Fat Rucker. I'm sure the dinosaurs also thought they were invincible, and look where they are now. We will see how superior 'we' are when the floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, solar flares and meteor showers hits us.

  • Irie Fairie - 2011-01-21 09:52

    @Fat Rucker. Human civilisation is what it is precisely BECAUSE we're capable of "doing what we want with nature" Nature is far more powerful than us tiny mortals Fat Rucker. I'm sure the dinosaurs also thought they were invincible, and look where they are now. We will see how superior 'we' are when the floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, solar flares and meteor showers hits us.

      Fat Rucker - 2011-01-21 11:50

      Sheesh - no need to repeat yourself! God obviously blessed you with a speech disorder - he must have been hungover when he created you...

  • bosegoos - 2011-01-21 11:04

    I have flown a few times with 1Time and have been uncomfortable every time when I got into these ancient MD 82 planes. As far as I know 1Time does not have any cargo planes and that their cargo areas are relatively small and in my opinion not big enough to carry 749 birds.

  • Willa - 2011-01-21 11:20

    They were caught in the DRC?! Erm....right. Am I missing something or is that a problem in itself right there? Catching wild animals to lock them up for the rest of their lives for BREEDING?!

  • Ingwe - 2011-01-21 12:19

    South Africa is one of few countries that still allow wild caught African Grey Parrots to be imported. To top it all off, this is their breeding season in Africa, so how many chicks have died as a direct result of their parents being captured? Another interesting factor is the fact that these birds mate for life. How many pairs have been broken up?

      Don - 2011-01-21 13:40

      I'm not sure of your fact regarding mating for life, its been proven that even though other birds and other mamal species mate for life, there is still a fair bit of activity outside these pairings, its quite conceivable that in many cases the males are helping to raise anothers chicks. Suggest you look this up in regards to Penguins.

  • unskinnybob - 2011-01-21 13:13

    Which one is it? Freezing or Carbon Monoxide poisoning? You can still thaw and eat a frozen parrot.

  • Zinki - 2011-01-21 13:48

    These poor parrots made it alive all the way from the Congo to SA. What happened that so many can die just on one short flight from Joburg to Durban? Something has got to be very wrong...

      123online123 - 2011-01-21 14:11

      Zinki, you THINK??? You're QUITE the little Sherlock Holmes.

      steven - 2011-01-21 14:17

      i blame apartheid...

  • Wishbone - 2011-01-21 15:54

    I'm sure there are processing facilities that can scrub and clean the parrots and restamp their sell by date to a month in the future?

  • Loro - 2011-01-22 14:03

    This disaster only happened to provide the ¨pet¨ market with merchandise. And yes, we are defined on how we treat those that are less powerful than us. Will we be able to stop the trade, sales and keeping of wild birds?

  • pages:
  • 1