peregrine-falcons-savedThese peregrine falcons were spared from Dubai’s rare breeds smuggling ring, but can it happen again?

Unfortunately, for every “good guy” who works tirelessly to support wildlife conservation, who crawls through brambles and thickets to discover a missing frog for example, there is at least one “bad guy” who undermines those efforts. The battle between the light and the dark forces of conservation continues apace, as one Irish Zimbabwean tried to smuggle 14 peregrine falcon eggs out of the United Kingdom into Dubai.

Stealing up the mountain

After stealing up a mountain peak in Southern Wales (in Rhondda) and snatching the eggs from four different peregrine falcon nests, Jeffrey Lendrum then stashed the eggs in socks and strapped them to his body. He was warming his interests.

He left the climbing gear and an incubator in a car that was parked in a longterm parking lot and checked in to Birmingham airport. There, he asked permission to use the VIP Emirates Lounge shower facilities.

This was the beginning of his downfall.

Dry shower rooms and red eggs make a suspicious combination

Jon Struczynski, an airport cleaner, noticed that the shower was dry and became suspicious.

“He checked the bins in the room nearby and found two discarded egg boxes, which contained a single red coloured egg,” according to Wildlife Extra WE).

Because employees are encouraged to alert the authorities at the first sign of suspicious activity, this is exactly what Mr. Struczynski did, which led to Lendrum’s arrest as he was boarding his flight to Dubai.

Busted

“An officer from the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) identified the eggs as being peregrine falcon, protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Export of such species is also strictly prohibited unless there is a valid export permit in force at the time of export,” writes WE.

Despite a campaign launched early last year to root out smuggling in the United Arab Emirates, a market still exists. According to Anna Ohlden with Science 20, “endangered lions, smuggled ivory, stuffed crocodiles, rare birds, deers, falcons and stuffed foxes” are among the most popular animals and their parts smuggled into Dubai.

Many are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Plan foiled, but falcons hatched

Britain is well poised to handle such issues, and 11 of the 14 chicks were safely hatched by falconer Lee Featherstone. Of those, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has placed seven in other nests, with the hope that they will be adopted, while the rest were placed in a wildlife release programme.

This was not Lendrum’s first offense, though this time he will spend 2.5 years in prison reflecting on his deeds.

“He had been convicted previously of two similar offences, one in Canada and one in Zimbabwe. West Midlands Police counter terrorism officers are now carrying out a financial investigation into Lendrum under the provision of the Proceeds of Crime Act. If they can prove to a court that he has money from the proceeds of crime, they can appeal to claw it back to be ploughed back into fighting crime,” according to ME.

:: Wildlife Extra

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