Illegal Trade in Songbirds Makes Italian Restaurants Bloom

10,000 songbirds were supposed to become expensive delicacies in Italian restaurants

By on November 16th, 2011 10:40 GMT

Hungary and Romania's carelessness and indifference became known to the entire world when officials from the WWF proved that these two nations had put the illegal caviar trade above the fate of endangered sturgeons.

The two countries are on the black list once again, as TRAFFIC, a wildlife monitoring organization, reported that Hungarian officials are faced with a terrible situation: 10,000 dead songbirds, on their way to becoming expensive dishes in a fancy chain of restaurants in northern Italy.

The illegal commercial activity involving 10 species of birds was spotted on the Hungarian-Romanian border.

The prey, worth thousands of dollars on the black market, included the following species: red-throated pipits (Anthus cervinus), Calandra larks (Melanocorypha calandra), fieldfares (Turdus pilaris), bluethroats (Luscinia svecica), mistle thrushes (Turdus viscivorus), European goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis), reed buntings (Emberiza schoeniclus), white wagtails (Motacilla alba) and Eurasian skylarks (Alauda arvensis)

These birds are not protected by authorities, since they do not appear on the IUCN Red List, the official paper indicating the names of the endangered, vulnerable creatures on an undeniable path to extinction. Even so, the songbirds are considerably affected by pollution and habitat loss, because of deforestation, desertification, industrial processes and mining activities.

When that doesn't get them, the birds are killed by poachers, who increase their profit by selling them in large quantities to popular restaurants, where they are considered to be a delicacy. Bushmeat represents a problem quite common for the developing countries in Africa, South America and South Asia, but it is an expanding phenomenon even in Europe, according to a TRAFFIC report issued two years ago.

"Despite TRAFFIC’s earlier warnings, the illegal trade in songbirds within Europe clearly still continues—a situation the EU should find unacceptable and do its utmost to rectify," said Katalin Kecse-Nagy, a Senior Program Officer with TRAFFIC, in a press release.

People at home can't realize the potential of this threat when famous chefs appear on TV, praising exquisite meals, made from meat sold on the black market. This is the case of worldwide famous celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who has bragged about eating the ortolan songbird in France, a commodity on the black market. 
Juvenile House sparrow
   Juvenile House sparrow
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