Our work revealed that by the mid-1980s, untold millions of birds were being flown around the world and sold into the pet market. In 1986, more than 20 million bids were taken from the wild in Senegal alone, with four out of five of them dying before reaching the consumer.
Following undercover investigations in West Africa, Guyana, Bolivia and Argentina, EIA exposed the scale and horror of the trade and brought pressure to bear on international airlines to stop carrying wild-caught birds, beginning with British Airways, Lufthansa and KLM. Eventually, more than 150 airlines signed up and by the early 1990s the trade had largely collapsed.
At the same time, EIA teamed up with the USA’s Animal Welfare Institute to tackle the world’s biggest consumer of pet birds – the USA. Hard campaigning, documentaries and legislative work resulted in the landmark Wild Bird Conservation Act 1992 saving millions of birds from suffering and some species from extinction.