An ex-member of the Rhodesian SAS has been jailed for 30 months after he attempted to export rare peregrine falcon eggs through Birmingham Airport to a wealthy Arab in Dubai.
Jeffrey Lendrum, 48, of Towcester, Northamptonshire, was caught after cleaner John Struczynski spotted him dashing in and out of the shower in the Emirates' business class lounge at the airport.
But despite his frequent visits, the cleaner found the shower still dry and alerted counter-terrorism police fearing the former soldier had a more sinister purpose.
When officers arrested Lendrum they found he had 14 rare peregrine falcon eggs bound in socks and strapped to his body to keep them warm.
The eggs, worth £70,000 on the black market in Dubai where falconry is a national sport, were still alive when they were seized by officers on May 3.
Eleven were successfully hatched and the highly protected chicks released back in to the wild, Warwick Crown Court heard.
On Thursday Lendrum, who regularly travelled around the world on business, admitted one count of trying to export the eggs and another of illegally stealing them from a nest on the side of a mountain in Rhondda, South Wales.
The businessman developed dare-devil techniques, once abseiling off a cliff to reach a nest, while on another occasion he lowered himself from a helicopter in Canada to reach his prize.
There are only 1,400 breeding pairs of peregrine falcons in the country and the birds receive the highest possible level of protection.
Jailing Lendrum, Judge Christopher Hodson said the "endangered" species "enhance the attraction of the countryside to all".
A recent divorcee, Lendrum, who travels on an Irish passport, appeared in court wearing a grey sweater and blue jeans. Flanked by three guards, he spoke only to plead guilty.