Days after news broke that rare birds endemic to Dominica were taken from the island to Germany, the government has sought to respond to public queries saying the matter was handled legally for captive breeding purposes.

The issue broke over the weekend when reports surfaced that the birds, which were kept at the Parrot Aviary in the Botanic Gardens, were alleged ‘smuggled’ from Dominica with little or no public knowledge of what was going on.

In a statement late on Tuesday, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Reginald Thomas shot down claims that the birds were smuggled, saying everything was done above board and the birds were transferred from the island to facilitate the breeding of a critically endangered species.

“On Saturday, March 17, 2018, 12 birds, 10 Jacos and two Sisserous were exported legally to Germany via St. Lucia,” he said in explaining the matter, and added that “Arrangements were made with the German Authorities, the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, the CITIES Management Authority to get the required documents to allow the safe transfer.”

According to Dominica News Online, he stated that the birds will be kept in Germany at the facilities of the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots (ACTP) “for research into the breeding, particularly of the Sisserou, as a backup population in the event that the local population was to go extinct.”

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