A Northamptsonshire man caught attempting to smuggle peregrine falcon eggs out of the UK has been jailed for 30 months.
Appearing at Warwick Crown Court on August 19, Jeffrey Paul Lendrum, 48, of Towcester, was sentenced after pleading guilty to taking 14 peregrine falcon eggs from a nest in South Wales, possessing the eggs at Birmingham International Airport, and attempting to evade export restrictions relating to protected species. His vehicle was also confiscated and the judge ordered an investigation into his finances.
Lendrum, who lives between the UK, South African and Zimbabwe, was arrested at Birmingham International Airport on May 3 2010 after airport staff noticed him acting suspiciously. On conducting a search, counter terrorism officers found Lendrum to have socks containing 14 peregrine falcon eggs bandaged to his stomach. They also discovered equipment associated with taking bird eggs, including climbing ropes and an incubator, in Lendrum’s car.
Andy McWilliam, who led the investigation into Lendrum’s activities for the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU), said the conviction sent an important message to would-be smugglers of protected species. “There are strict regulations controlling the export of peregrine falcons and their eggs from the UK,” he explained.
“Lendrum was trying to smuggle ‘live’ eggs, meaning they contained chicks. Had he been successful we believe it was his intention to pass these to contacts in Dubai, who would then hatch them out for the lucrative falconry market.
“Lendrum’s criminal operation was carefully planned. He has shown no regard for conservation of these highly protected species, and animal welfare was not his concern. “Luckily, in this particular case, most of the chicks have been saved and are being introduced back into the wild.”
The eggs seized at Birmingham Airport were passed to an experienced falconer, who managed to incubate and hatch 11 chicks. These were initially placed with foster parents while the RSPB sought suitable nesting sites for them.
To date, eight chicks have been placed in nests containing other chicks in the hope they will be adopted by the resident parent birds. The remaining chicks are currently in a wild release programme.