Man, 37, arrested in Indonesia over smuggling of rare cockatoos inside water bottles

Indonesian police and customs officials hold rare Indonesian yellow-crested cockatoos placed inside water bottles confiscated from alleged wildlife smuggler. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Indonesian police and customs officials hold rare Indonesian yellow-crested cockatoos placed inside water bottles confiscated from alleged wildlife smuggler. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Rare Indonesian yellow-crested cockatoos placed inside water bottles confiscated from alleged wildlife smuggler. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
Rare Indonesian yellow-crested cockatoos placed inside water bottles confiscated from alleged wildlife smuggler. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
A police officer holds a water bottle which with a yellow-crested cockatoo put inside for illegal trade at the customs office of Tanjung Perak port in Surabaya, East Java province, Indonesia, May 4, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
A police officer holds a water bottle which with a yellow-crested cockatoo put inside for illegal trade at the customs office of Tanjung Perak port in Surabaya, East Java province, Indonesia, May 4, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
A policeman holds a water bottle with a yellow-crested cockatoo put inside for illegal trade, at the customs office of Tanjung Perak port in Surabaya, East Java province, Indonesia, May 4, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A policeman holds a water bottle with a yellow-crested cockatoo put inside for illegal trade, at the customs office of Tanjung Perak port in Surabaya, East Java province, Indonesia, May 4, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SURABAYA, Indonesia (AFP) - Indonesian police have arrested a suspected wildlife smuggler after discovering nearly two dozen rare birds, mostly yellow-crested cockatoos, jammed inside plastic water bottles in his luggage.

The 37-year-old man was stopped by police on Monday as he alighted from a passenger ship in Surabaya, a city on the man island of Java.

Photographs show the birds, with distinctive yellow plumage, peering out of the bottles after being found by officers. The bottoms of the bottles had been cut off to squeeze the birds inside.

The head of the criminal investigation unit at the Tanjung Perak port, Mr Aldy Sulaiman, said police found the live birds stashed inside the man's luggage.

"We found 21 yellow-crested cockatoos and one green parrot," he said.

"All the birds were found inside water bottles, which were packed in a crate."

The birds have since been sent to Indonesia's natural resources conservation office, which deals with wildlife-trafficking cases.

Mr Sulaiman said the man - whose identity was not disclosed in line with normal criminal procedure in Indonesia - had admitted to carrying two birds for a friend but claimed to know nothing about the other animals.

If found guilty of smuggling, the man, from near Surabaya, could face up to five years in prison.

Yellow-crested cockatoos are native to Indonesia and neighbouring East Timor and considered critically endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

They are different to the larger and more common sulphur-crested cockatoo which is mostly found in Australia and New Guinea.