An international egg thief is on the run in South America after Brazilian authorities lost track of his whereabouts. He had been released on bail after being arrested for the theft of four exceedingly rare albino falcon eggs.
Zimbabwean Jeffrey Lendrum, 55, has gained global notoriety for his daring escapades in which he has grappled his way down cliff edges and even hung out of helicopters in order to get his hands on highly valued falcon eggs for wealthy Arab clients, according to The Times.
His most recent heist took place in Patagonia, Argentina, where he managed to scoop the aforementioned albino falcon eggs. He was caught at an airport in São Paulo heading from Chile to Dubai after an anonymous tip-off but then vanished when released on bail to appeal against his sentence.
Lendrum, a former Rhodesian SAS man, was jailed in 2010 for stealing 14 peregrine falcon eggs worth an estimated £70,000 ($86,000) from nests in south Wales, the UK and is still believed to pose a threat to falcons on the British Isles.
Andy McWilliam, investigations officer for the National Wildlife Crime Unit, said: "I think he's been coming to the UK on an annual basis and taking peregrine falcon [eggs]. There has been an increase in value in peregrine falcons and increased demand in the Middle East."
Mr McWilliam interviewed Lendrum before he was jailed in Britain and admitted he had a grudging respect for a "worthy adversary". He said: "I remember we found notebooks and diaries among his possessions. I kept them because I was so impressed.
"He was visiting Sri Lanka during the breeding season of a bird called the black shaheen, a breed of peregrine falcon. The notes had details of most sites he had visited, including military activity in the area. He goes into detail on security at the airport: how often they search people and if they have X-ray."
It is reported that peregrine falcon eggs can fetch more than £5,000 each. The peregrine is the fastest bird in the world, reaching speeds of up to 242mph. The birds are protected by British law and by the Convention on International Endangered Species.