Jeffery Lendrum, an ex-special forces officer, was caught at Heathrow airport on June 26th, 2018 after arriving from South Africa with illegal cargo.
The self-proclaimed “Pablo Escobar of the falcon egg trade” strapped eggs from endangered birds of prey, including vultures, eagles, hawks and kites to his body in hopes of achieving financial gain. The Telegraph reported that the value of his cargo was estimated to be worth around £100,000 .
That day, eagle eyed officers noticed something unusual about Lendrum. Unfortunately for him, a heavy jacket wasn’t going to conceal his contraband but expose him like a scarlet macaw (Ara macao) in a flock of pigeons (Columba livia domestica). Because who wears a thick jacket in hot weather in a stuffy airport?
The government’s news story details that officers asked him whether he had anything to declare and he admitted to carrying “fish eagle” and “kestrel” eggs . Yet the full extent of his egg smuggling mission was not unveiled until officers performed a full body search. Shockingly, a body belt constructed of surgical tape was being used to conceal 19 bird eggs and two newly hatched chicks!
Lendrum has a known history of egg smuggling and in 2010, he was jailed for 18 months after being caught at Birmingham Airport with boxes of eggs strapped to his chest. In this first known attempt of smuggling eggs out of the UK, Lendrum was in possession of 14 Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) eggs which he had taken from nests in south Wales.
At chXout we offer bird parentage testing and DNA profiling. This is a powerful tool for breeders and pet owners alike. We have already carried out bird parentage DNA tests to determine the genetic relationships of Peregrine Falcons and Gyr Falcons. Store your DNA profiles with us today – one day you may have to prove that your bird has not been taken from the wild.
Believe it or not, this 58-year-old man raided nests by dangling from a rope suspended by a helicopter!
Reluctant to give up, in October 2015 Lendrum tried to sneak a smaller collection of just four Peregrine Falcon eggs out of a São Paolo airport to South Africa – but got caught.
He was convicted of trafficking an endangered species in 2017 and was sentenced to four and a half years in prison. But somehow Lendrum successfully fled brazil after being released on bail. However, Bird Guides mentions that he could still be extradited to Brazil after fleeing his jail sentence there !
The use of genetic identification techniques in wildlife forensic investigations has increased significantly over the years. As international illegal wildlife trade continues to threaten the survival of endangered animals and plants the chXout team are keen to collaborate and utilise our expertise in DNA testing to help prevent wildlife crime.
Find out more about our Bird Services and our work with Peregrine Falcons here!