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Airport Security Finds Strangest Thing Hidden Under Man's Clothes

The surprises didn't stop there 😱

Last week, at London’s Heathrow Airport, a routine passenger search turned up an unbelievable find.

The passenger, a 56-year-old man from Ireland, had just flown in from South Africa — and security officers discovered 19 large eggs stuffed under his clothing, secured around his torso with a belt.

Two of the seized eggs | UK National Wildlife Crime Unit

The officers instantly knew the eggs weren’t your average chicken egg, as they were much larger and ranged in shape and size.

After a bit of sleuthing, the team realized the eggs must have been stolen from birds of prey in the wild.

The biggest giveaway? Two of them had already hatched.

poached vulture eggs london airport
The two newborn vultures resting in towels | UK National Wildlife Crime Unit

Specialists determined that in addition to the newborns, two fluffy vultures, the other eggs belonged to various South African birds including eagles, hawks and kites. All are protected species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) — which meant the man was promptly arrested.

The officers wrapped up the eggs and baby vultures in towels and sent them the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre for examination. They were transferred to a specialty clinic soon after that would continue incubation of the unhatched eggs, and start around-the-clock care of the fragile newborns.

poached bird eggs london
The remaining seized eggs in an incubator | UK National Wildlife Crime Unit

While it’s unclear why the man was smuggling the birds into the country, it’s possible they were destined to be sold as pets or for their parts. Vulture body parts in particular are popular in areas of South Africa for use in traditional medicine.

Hopefully, the eggs will successfully hatch against the odds — just as their adorable, determined friends did — and the youngsters will be able to be raised at a sanctuary that can properly care for them.

poached vulture egg hatch
One of the newborn vultures with his eyes open | UK National Wildlife Crime Unit

Until then, the officers look forward to watching their progress.

"By preventing the smuggling attempt, [the team] have also ensured that the birds and eggs received the immediate care and attention that they needed,” Grant Miller, head of Heathrow's CITES team, told the BBC. "The frontline work of my team is key to tackling the international illegal wildlife trade, which does so much environmental damage and threatens the survival of endangered animals.”

To help protect wild birds from poaching, you can make a donation to BirdLife International.