Conservation work is not always straightforward. Good intentions, such as a fence to keep Oryx safe, can often have disastrous results. In this case, many starved to death cut off as they were from the greater feeding grounds. Nor is it easy. Some conservationists face exposure to war zones in order to protect the creatures that are not only important in themselves, but important to the greater goal of biodiversity. As such, it is disappointing that illegal trade in protected species continues, but a cause célèbre when that trade is interuppted. This is what happened when a 48 year old man was arrested before boarding a plane to Dubai.
Robbing the nest
Jeffrey Lendrum stored 14 peregrine falcon eggs in socks, which he then strapped to his body in order to keep the eggs warm. He had stolen the eggs from four different nests in Rhondda, Wales. Before boarding, he had requested permission to use the shower facilities in the Emirates lounge, but left the stall dry, and a red egg in the trash, raising suspicion.
Jon Struczynski, an airport cleaner, reported Lendrum to authorities.
Guy Shorrock, who is a senior officer for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, told The National that the prosecution was the first unequivocal link between peregrines and the Middle East.”
While falconry is a popular sport in the Middle East, Peregrine falcons are protected under both CITES and the Migratory Bird Act. Trade in wild-caught birds, according to Harnan, is illegal.
However, in Dubai, Lendrum could have fetched $108,000 for the eggs, even though an Abu Dhabi official, whose job it is to enforce bans in wildlife trafficking, told Harnan that he was unaware of such a market.
Only 1,400 breeding pairs still exist in the UK, so this conviction was a major boon for conservation.
“This sentence is fantastic news,” Mr Shorrock said. “It sends a very clear message to the criminals who seek to make money from exploiting our wildlife.”
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