When the news broke that a British man had been caught allegedly smuggling £70,000 worth of peregrine falcon eggs, it got us to thinking the nerve it takes to be a smuggler these days. If you want to play with the big boys of the smuggling world, Mr Peregrine Falcon, prepare to strap more than some eggs to your chest. Here are our top five most audacious animal smugglers.
1. At the end of 2009, Hans Kurt Kubus was caught trying to leave Germany with a phenomenal 44 endangered lizards in his underwear. The reptile-enthusiast maintained that the geckos and skinks that he had hidden in special pockets in his pants were for his personal collection.
2. If we disregard the criminal intent of his opportunism, perhaps we should celebrate Jerome James as an advocate of the old adage “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Or rather, “If life forces you to wear a prosthetic leg, fill it with iguanas to sell on the black market ”, which he allegedly attempted to do with three Fiji Island Banded Iguanas in 2002.
3. Obviously we don’t condone the mistreatment of animals or wildlife crime in any way, but it takes a certain sort of criminal mastermind to do as Sony Dong did last year and design and make a pair of knee-high socks, to which rare and valuable songbirds can be attached and hidden under trousers. However, it takes a better sort of criminal mastermind to devise a way of stopping them from crapping on your shoes and giving the game away.
4. The best laid plans of fish and aprons came abruptly to a halt, when custom officials stopped a woman at Melbourne Airport in 2005. Sharon Naismith who was wearing said apron, hung with water-filled bags holding 51 live tropical fish worth $30,000 was questioned as to the source of the splashing and flipping noises coming from her person.
5. It was all going so well for Chris Edward Malloy. He had managed to get two Asian leopards into the backpack and was nonchalantly carrying the bag through Los Angeles International Airport in 2002, when his partner in crime inadvertently released two tropical birds that he was concealing. The multicoloured squalking birds then circled over the pair, blowing their cover. As dynamic duos go, somewhat more Chuckle Brothers than Kray Twins.