JAIPUR: The Pink City will soon have another avian species added to its environment, thanks to illicit trade in wildlife. As many as 10 dozen Alexandrian parakeets, a Schedule IV species, seized from two persons after a raid on a hotel here on Sunday will be released in the Nahargarh wildlife sanctuary on the outskirts of Jaipur.
Alexandrian parakeets, popularly known as "Gagroni tota" after the Gagron Fort in Jhalawar district of the State where they were found in abundance once, are rarely sighted in and around Jaipur or in Sariska sanctuary in Alwar district these days though they are present in the Project Tiger sanctuary, Ranthambhore National Park, some 200 km away.
The birds, which were found squeezed into two 2.5 X 2 feet wooden cages, were seized from Sharavan and Santosh, said to be residents of Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, after a raid by the special squad of the Rajasthan Forest Department. Each box contained 60 birds. The traders reportedly got them for Rs.30 each from Delhi and were planning to sell them this festival season for Rs.50 to 1,500 apiece.
"It is not clear from where the birds were captured originally but the culprits are saying that they got them from Delhi," said Manoj Parashar, Deputy Conservator, Forests (Zoos). The birds were released in an enclosure in Jaipur Zoo immediately after their seizure.
Remanded to custody
"The culprits are giving vague answers. Further interrogation only will bring out the truth," he said. Both the accused are now in judicial custody.
The parakeets, beautiful birds with considerable mimicking skills, were seemingly heading for Jaipur markets on Diwali-eve. Wild birds, mynas, parrots and other song birds are available throughout the year in certain markets here and parrots are said to be a "shakun" (good omen) for Diwali.
"From ancient times Gagroni toatas are popular pets. They are much in demand," said Mr.Parashar.
"Alexandrian parakeets are big birds, measuring 2 feet from tail to head. They need big cavities to breed and only very few forests in Rajasthan are left with big trees.
The Gagron Fort has its ramparts with slits meant for pointing guns downwards where these birds used to make their nests," said Rajpal Singh, author and honorary wildlife warden of Jaipur.