Questions over death of 700 parrots on flight to Durban

2011-01-21 11:50

The more than 700 parrots which died on a flight between Johannesburg and Durban succumbed to either hypothermia or carbon monoxide poisoning, the acting director of veterinary quarantine said today.

“The report did not give a conclusive reason for the deaths, but the consensus seems to point towards carbon monoxide poisoning/hypothermia,” Dr Tertius Bergh wrote.

There were 749 parrots on the 1time flight between the two cities as they were being moved from a quarantine facility in Kempton Park to another in KwaZulu-Natal as a result of a dispute over their ownership.

Only 62 survived, according to information supplied in response to queries from Beeld and circulated to other media.

Twelve of the dead birds were opened, then three thoroughly examined and the conclusions were the same.

The carcasses of the dead birds were incinerated.

The ownership of the African Grey parrots, which were captured in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is still in dispute.

Lawyer Ben Moodie says he imported them and had the paperwork to prove it. But, another bird dealer Gideon Fourie allegedly owed a third bird dealer, Hennie Matthews money.

Matthews, who believed Fourie was the real owner of the birds, wanted the birds in lieu of the supposed debt.

But Moodie claimed Fourie only went to the DRC on his behalf to check the health of the birds.

 A court ordered that Matthews take custody of the birds until the matter was resolved and that he give Moodie a guarantee for R2 million – the value of the birds.

Moodie said the guarantee wasn’t paid. Matthews said he was only responsible for the birds from when they arrived in Durban. But by then they were dead, so he was not responsible for them.

According to Moodie it would take “a long time” to sort the matter out in court.

In the meantime, 1time has questioned suggestions about conditions in the cargo hold of the plane, saying it was receiving the same air as the rest of the aircraft, and that other animals in the hold had survived.

It would also no longer transport more than four animals in a cage.

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