Turkish Airlines: it must act to stop parrot poaching

Poached African grey parrots smuggled on Turkish Airlines flights


These parrots – one of the world’s most trafficked animals – are suffering terribly in the name of the legal and illegal wildlife pet trade

Our investigation

Our shocking video shows a poacher using a lure bird to trap wild African grey parrots.

Illegally trafficked African grey parrots:

  • have their flight feathers brutally chopped off to prevent them from escaping
  • are crammed into small, dirty containers
  • have a mortality rate of 66% before they even reach transport planes
  • suffer a life of misery, if they survive the journey

Because of this thriving illicit trade, wild African grey parrot populations have declined by as much as 99% in some areas.

Turkish Airlines must do more

Our investigation reveals Turkish Airlines and its subsidiary, Turkish Cargo, are enabling the exotic pet trade, despite making commitments to combat wildlife trafficking.

Turkish Airlines has been used to illegally transport wild-caught African grey parrots on flights from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Nigeria and Mali to countries in the Middle East, western and southern Asia.

As recently as August 18, 2018, African grey parrots were transported by Turkish Airlines between DRC’s capital city, Kinshasa, and Kuwait via Istanbul, with more than 60 found dead on arrival.

Sign our petition now

We are asking Turkish Airlines to stop transporting all birds until it can ensure traffickers aren’t smuggling African grey parrots and other protected wildlife on its planes.

Will you help us protect wildlife?


Poached African grey parrots suffer terribly

The cruel exotic pet trade

Millions of wild animals are being captured from their habitats or born into captivity to be sold into the exotic pet trade. This multibillion-dollar industry is having a devastating impact on wildlife populations.

Whether traded legally or illegally, keeping wild animals as pets is cruel.

The journey they endure is perilous; they are stuffed in crates, often unable to breathe properly or move and most of these wild animals will sadly suffocate, starve or succumb to diseases in transit.

A lifetime of suffering

Once they are in people’s homes, there is no realistic way to replicate the space and freedom these animals would have in the wild.

African grey parrots are also highly social, nesting in very large flocks. They’ll never be happy spending their lives in cages.

Many animals are kept in spaces vastly smaller than their natural habitats. Also, despite a pet owner’s best intentions and efforts, they don’t receive the correct nutrition.

Our research reveals that:

  • Three out of four parrots captured in Mexico to be sold as pets die before reaching a buyer
  • Nearly one third of all wild animals die during transportation

Devastating consequences

Cassandra Koenen, our global head of campaign – Wildlife. Not pets, says: "Poaching animals for the exotic pet trade is happening on an industrial scale with devastating consequences. Worse still is that the illegal and illicit elements of the trade are often aided by government corruption and inadequate enforcement.

"Animals suffer at every step of the journey destined to people’s homes: from capture to handling, transport, holding, breeding, sale and the lifetime of captivity in the home."

Choose a domesticated animal

Most people buy exotic pets because they love animals – but any wild animal in the exotic pet trade experiences suffering.  

We are urging people to not buy, own or breed a wild animal as a pet. A life in captivity is a world away from a life in the wild.


African grey parrots are not suited to life as a pet: the wild animals often pull out their feathers due to stress and boredom when kept in captivity

Take action for wildlife

Turkish Airlines must stop transporting birds until it can be sure African grey parrots are being protected.

Sign our petition to help move Turkish Airlines to do the right thing.

Whether traded legally or illegally, keeping wild animals as pets is cruel.