I now have a connection with some wildlife officials in Australia who will keep me updated on parrot news from that part of the world:

Two years for bird smuggler - January 2007

A 48-year-old French national was fined $10,000 and sentenced to two years in prison, yesterday (19 January) after being convicted of attempting to smuggle 23 exotic bird eggs into Australia from Bangkok, Thailand.

Pascal Rene Della Zuana, a freelance photographer was found guilty in the Downing Centre District Court for contravening the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the Customs Act 1901 and the Quarantine Act 1908.

Mr. Della Zuana was stopped by Customs officers at Sydney International Airport on 2 August 2006 after he arrived on a flight from Bangkok. He was found to be wearing a specially constructed singlet underneath his clothing which held an array of exotic bird eggs including macaws, African grey and Eclectus parrots and a rare Moluccan cockatoo.

Mr. Della Zuana was subsequently charged by Customs Investigators and had been on remand since his arrest in August.

The Moluccan cockatoo is a threatened species, facing extinction. All parrots including cockatoos and macaws are also listed under CITES.

The court heard that the birds would have fetched almost $250,000 on the illegal black market. Bird smuggling also poses a risk of the introduction into Australia of highly infectious diseases including Newcastle Disease, Avian Influenza and the virulent bursal disease.

Due to the quarantine risk the eggs had to be destroyed by irradiation. Identification of the birds was possible through DNA analysis.

Customs National Manger for Investigations, Richard Janeczko said the court case was part of a long-running ongoing investigation into a national and international wildlife smuggling operations by Customs.

"Customs is alert to wildlife smuggling and is continuing to target syndicates operating in Australia which are making large sums of money from the illegal wildlife trade.

Mr. Janeczko said Australians could help Customs apprehend illegal wildlife traders by reporting suspicious activity, such as poachers' equipment or unusual activity in bushland, to the Customs Hotline on 1800 06 1800.

According to a 2005 report the illegal smuggling of wildlife is said to be worth between $US 5 billion and $US 15 billion per year with the black market trade considered only behind drugs and arms in terms of size.