JAKARTA, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Indonesian authorities arrested an alleged smuggler accused of using a public bus to transport rare birds for the illegal pet trade, U.S. conservationists say.
The Wildlife Conservation Society said the arrest was made by the Natural Resources Conservation Agency in Lampung, Sumatra, Indonesia.
More than 20 protected birds, including cockatoos, parrots, peafowl, birds of paradise and other species, were confiscated, a release from the organization's headquarters in New York said Wednesday.
"We applaud the government of Indonesia for its commitment in stopping illegal wildlife trade within its borders," Joe Walston, director of the society's Asia program, said.
The alleged smuggler was arrested with the birds in baskets and cages on a bus traveling between the capital city of Jakarta and Medan in northern Sumatra after having been tracked from Bakauheni Seaport, a main transit point between the islands of Sumatra and Java.
"We believe that protected wildlife from eastern Indonesia is currently being smuggled abroad via Medan," a Forestry Ministry official identified only as Mr. Darori said. "The smugglers are trying to find alternative routes since both the seaport and airport in Jakarta are strongly monitored and protected by our officers."
The Sunda Strait, the waterway between the Sumatra and Java, is a main smuggling route for transporting illegal wildlife, the society said.