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‘A legitimate zoo?’ How an obscure German group cornered global trade in endangered parrots

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Exclusive: A secretive organisation based in a German village has amassed one of the world’s largest collections of rare parrots. How did Martin Guth, a former nightclub manager, persuade governments to authorise the export of so many endangered species?

• Australia gave endangered birds to secretive German ‘zoo’, ignoring warnings

It’s an unlikely spot for a zoo – down an unmade, dusty road, amid a wood to the east of the German capital Berlin.

But here in the village of Tasdorf, hundreds of the world’s most endangered and rare parrot species are said to be housed at the headquarters of the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots (ACTP).

Related: Australia gave endangered birds to secretive German ‘zoo’, ignoring warnings

Australia allowed the export of rare species despite concerns that the birds could be sold to wealthy collectors

The German federal conservation agency is aware of private social media messages that show Australian birds apparently imported by ACTP have been offered for sale for hundreds of thousands of dollars

Guth served a five-year prison term for kidnapping and extortion, and a second 20-month term for extortion in 2009

German authorities have vouched for ACTP, but say they have no knowledge of Guth’s criminal background

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ACTP is licensed to operate as a zoo but has no facilities freely open to the public

At least one individual who works with ACTP has a conviction for involvement with illegal bird trading

Governments and regulatory bodies have ignored numerous concerns about ACTP raised by scientists, conservationists, breeders and politicians.

All birds are legal, also with documentation, everything clean!

Related: UN issues stamps featuring newly listed endangered species – in pictures

It seemed to be a private collection. That bothered me

Related: The week in wildlife – in pictures

Related: Eight bird species are first confirmed avian extinctions this decade

If ACTP is a legitimate conservation organisation with credentialed, qualified leaders, why the secrecy?

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