A £20,000 haul of rare and protected birds of prey have been recovered from a house in Birmingham.
Police and the National Wildlife Crime Unit swooped at the address in West Heath and found six birds being kept in aviaries.
They included a Wahlberg’s Eagle with a 5ft wingspan, an African Hawk Eagle and two Gabar Goshawks.
A 26-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of obtaining false import permits and quizzed by police.
The birds are thought to have been trafficked in to the country from South Africa to be bred or sold on the lucrative illegal market.
A further 14 birds were discovered at other addresses across the country as part of the operation after a warrant was obtained under the Control of Trade in Endangered Species Act.
Andy McWilliam, of the National Wildlife Crime Unit, said the raid came at the end of a long investigation in to suspected illegal bird trading.
“This was the result of a long investigation in to the suspected illegal trade in birds from abroad,” he said.
“We believe they came from South Africa and appear to have been shipped properly but the issue surrounds the permits that were obtained to bring them in to the UK.
“It’s not clear at this stage whether they were being sold or used for breeding but they were being kept in various aviaries and there were no particular concerns about the welfare of the birds.
“I would like to stress that the vast majority of people involved in the trade of birds in the UK are legitimate but we will target those who break the law.
“Some of these birds are rare and protected and their import to this country is something that needs to be monitored.”
The birds are now being cared for by experts.
The raids also involved officers from the UK Border Agency and the Animal Health Agency.
The suspect was bailed to appear at a police station in March.