Above: Photo: Border Force. Two vulture eggs had hatched when the Irish national was searched by Border Force officers at Heathrow Airport


NINETEEN EGGS FROM rare and endangered bird species, two of which had already hatched, have been confiscated from a man who landed at Heathrow Airport.

Border Force officers at the London airport prevented the illegal importation on June 26. Officers stopped, questioned and searched an Irish national, who had arrived on a flight from South Africa, and found 19 bird eggs concealed within a body belt, as well as two newly hatched vulture chicks.

Specialist officers established that the eggs were protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

The 56-year-old man was arrested and the investigation has been passed to the National Crime Agency (NCA). The man has since been bailed pending further enquiries. The exact bird species are yet to be identified, but officers say the confiscated eggs come from vultures, eagles, hawks and kites.

Both the eggs and the two chicks were kept warm and transported to the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre, managed by the City of London Corporation.

Grant Miller, head of the national Border Force CITES team at Heathrow, said officers will seize anything that contravenes CITES regulations. He explained: “In this case, by preventing the smuggling attempt the officers have also ensured that the birds and eggs received the immediate care and attention that they needed.”

He continued: “The frontline work of my team, alongside close working with enforcement partners such as the NCA and National Wildlife Crime Unit, is key to tackling the international illegal wildlife trade which does so much environmental damage and threatens the survival of endangered animals and plants.”

The importation of endangered species into the UK is strictly controlled by CITES –  an international agreement which covers more than 35,000 species of animals and plants.

● Anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to smuggling and trafficking should call the UK hotline on: 0800 59 5000.


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