Confining parakeets to cages is a risky practice. Parakeets have been included in Schedule 4 of the Wildlife Act and the netting of the birds can invite trouble. The Section 9 of the Wildlife Act prohibits the hunting of the bird as well.

Like the netting of the bird, keeping it in houses without obtaining the required clearance is also a crime. It requires the permission of the Chief Wildlife Warden and permission will be issued to zoos and for research purposes.

"In its strict sense, keeping the bird is an offence. But we are focussing more on curbing the trade in parakeets that are caught mostly from places in Tamil Nadu," says V. Gopinath, Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife). A roadside vendor of parakeets was taken into custody in Kochi on Monday by the Flying Squad of the Forest Department.

On a complaint from M.R. Sethumadhavan, secretary of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty against Animals, Kochi, the Forest officials took into custody nearly 60 parakeets that were brought from Tamil Nadu.

The rehabilitation of caged parakeets is a matter of concern, Mr. Gopinath says. "Once we act on the individuals who keep the birds, the parakeets will be left high and dry and we don't have the facilities for rehabilitating them. It is not advisable to release them into the wild," he says.

If the birds have been caged for long and fed by their keeper, they may not be able to feed themselves in the wild. However, young ones who have not been caged for long can be released in their normal habitat, Mr. Gopinath says.

"In case of any specific complaints about individuals keeping parakeets, we will have to act," Baby Sajan, range officer, Forest Vigilance squad, Palarivattom, says.

The rescued birds are now at the Kodanad range office of the Forest Department. The parakeets will be released after obtaining the permission of the court, says Deepak Kumar Mishra, Divisional Forest Officer, Malayattoor division.