Many people say that they would do anything possible to follow through with their convictions. However, most of the time when it comes to backing what they say is totally different than following through with what they say. Yet, what happens when someone who says one thing but does the opposite? For world-renowned outspoken and expert protector of exotic birds Tony Silva, he has proved that while he says he is a defender of parrots is actually an exploiter of them.
Silva was found guilty of smuggling birds and on November 18th, 1996 was sentenced to seven years in jail without the possibility of parole for being in charge of a smuggling operation of parrots illegally. He was not the only one to be arrested in a three-year international probe into smuggling birds known as “Operation Renegade.” The operation was led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Division of Law Enforcement; Silva’s case was the most widely known.
His accusations and guilty verdict stunned the international community since Silva was respected and known to be kind towards birds. Included in this group were academic zoologists, experts and conservationists as well as collectors who like exotic birds. Tony has been a defender of wildlife starting back to his childhood days. His parents had left Cuba to live in the United States and it was them who promoted his affection towards birds as they felt it would keep their son out of mischief. Having started to breed birds when he was younger, Silva had become well-known in wild-life circles. By the times he was in his 20s, Silva had published two books and had already produced hundreds of articles in which helped him to become curator of a wildlife sanctuary located in the Canary Islands known as Loro Park.
This picture of Silva quickly changed as he was said to have smuggled exotic birds in the hundreds that included over 100 Hyacinth Macaws, which are worth roughly $1.4 million. Hyacinth Macaws are considered very rare as their population number is 2,000-5,000. Sadly, a lot of these birds perish while being smuggled. The Silva case received a severe sentence due to its uniqueness by Elaine Bucklo, the U.S. District Court Judge who presided over the case. Being outraged over the harsh treatment the birds endured by the smugglers, Silva was fined $100,000, a prison sentence of eighty-two months and to perform two hundred hours of community service during a release program that is supervised for three years when released from prison. The judge said, “The real victims of these crimes were the birds themselves and our children and future generations who may never have the opportunity to see any of these rare birds.”
Afterwards, Silva said that he was only trying to defend the birds and that it he was framed. Unfortunately, the majority disagreed with him noting the evidence that was presented such as a recorded discussion of him offering to sell 50 Hyacinth Macaws, pictures of parrots that were dead and at his home was recovered a book containing his smuggling business.