EIA at 40 – leading the fight to end the wild bird trade

In the countdown to EIA’s 40th anniversary later this year, we are featuring previous editions of our newsletter, highlighting our work exposing environmental crime and abuse. 

EIA News - 1991Today, we share an edition from 1991 detailing our efforts to bring down the international trade in wild-caught birds.

After years of investigative work, we were able to obtain information, photographs and film that helped shed light on the terrible conditions and devastating environmental impacts of the wild-bird trade.

The issue garnered significant media interest and the BBC children’s programme Blue Peter showed a film prepared with our co-operation.

In 1990, our campaign scored a major victory when German airline Lufthansa bowed to lobbying efforts and agreed to stop transporting wild birds. It was previously the largest carrier of wildlife. On 29 November, the General Manager of Lufthansa admitted his company had a moral obligation to avoid animal suffering caused by the transport of exotic birds.

Following the Lufthansa announcement and the release of footage from our investigative work, British Airways and other airlines caved to pressure and agreed to stop carrying wild bird shipments. In the previous year alone, British Airways had carried more than 76,000 birds into the UK.

The banning of shipments by Lufthansa and other airlines led to an immediate reduction in the wild-bird trade. In the year following the Lufthansa ban, dealers told us that their business had dropped by 40-50 per cent.

EIA Co-Founder Dave Currey writes: “EIA’s investigations, film and photos of the appalling cruelty and threats to wild birds covered three continents and provided the basis of campaigns all over the world. Without our evidence there would not have been a ban by over 70 airlines from carrying wild birds, and the US market was completely changed by the Wild Bird Conservation Act in 1992. EIA’s documentation gave us a place at the negotiating table in Washington DC alongside our colleagues at the Animal Welfare Institute where the footage, photos and evidence of the realities of the trade persuaded Congress to pass the bill.”

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