Two thousand African gray parrots, a species threatened with extinction, raised such a squawk that they were rescued from the clutches of a smuggling ring, the Ghana News Agency reported this week.

Two Americans and two Ghanaians were detained last week for attempting to export the birds illegally, the agency said.The plot was uncovered when a senior Ghanaian intelligence officer heard loud squawking as he was seeing off a government delegation at Accra's international airport, the agency added.

The birds were then discovered in 33 containers on a London-bound flight, covered by forged documents.

One of the detained Americans was identified as Darrell Marion Alexander, a dealer in exotic birds. The name of the other American was not disclosed.

Ghana has banned export of African gray parrots, known for their ability to talk but difficult to find in West Africa because of excessive trapping and destruction of their natural forest habitat.

The seized birds, whose wings had been clipped, were sent to the Accra zoo.

Several have died because of the poor conditions in which they had been held by the illegal exporters, a zoo official said.