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731 African grey parrots were discovered dead after a short flight from Johannesburg to Durban, South Africa, on Christmas eve. The circumstances surrounding these birds deaths remain mysterious and suspicious.
When the 15 shipping crates were opened, it was discovered that between 46 and 48 wild African grey parrots had been crammed into the 1x1x1.5 meter space. This tight packing was in direct violation of International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations, which clearly state that each bird must have its own perch and that no more than 25 small birds can be placed into a container.
But why would anyone pack and ship "500 kilos" of dead parrots? Aren't they more valuable alive? Well ...maybe.
As it so happens, these African grey parrot bodies are the subject of a legal dispute over ownership. Henry "Hennie" Matthews, a parrot breeder in Roodepoort, and Ben Moodie, a Boksburg attorney who claims he imported the birds to be sold through his business, Iceland Industrial Projects, both claim they own the birds. A R1.7 million damage claim has been lodged against 1time/Express Air Services for the death and loss of the birds.
In the official report (which is unavailable), the state veterinarian, Dr Naidoo, described massive hemorrhaging around the parrots' eyes and grey, collapsed lungs. But Dr Steve Boyes, director of the World Parrot Trust Africa and a postdoctoral fellow at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, says that his "lengthy conversations" with Dr Naidoo revealed symptoms that are not consistent with the official cause of death.