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Monday, 22 April, 2002, 21:07 GMT 22:07 UK
Man jailed for rare egg thefts
Rare birds' eggs
The eggs were stolen from Britain's rarest birds
A man convicted of stealing rare birds' eggs has become only the third person in the UK to be jailed for the offence.

Matthew Gonshaw from Bow, east London, was sentenced to three months in prison by Thames magistrates.

In court he was described as a loner who abused his encyclopaedic knowledge of birds.

Although police found no eggs at his home, they found a range of egg collecting equipment.

Wildlife Crime Unit

Gonshaw's home was raided after he was arrested in Scotland for disturbing a Golden Eagle's nest.

Grahame Madge of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said: "We think this sends a signal to other egg collectors that people are becoming increasingly frustrated with wildlife criminals."

Gonshaw was accused of taking four Marsh Harrier eggs from the Isle of Sheppey in Kent and six Chough eggs from nesting sites in Scotland.

Both are rare birds with only around 200 nesting pairs remaining.

Both species are listed under Schedule One of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, the highest level of protection.

Gonshaw was sentenced on the day a new organisation to tackle wildlife crime was launched in the UK.

The National Wildlife Crime Unit will concentrate particularly on the trade in endangered species, estimated to be worth about 3bn a year worldwide.

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See also:

22 Apr 02 | UK
Wildlife criminals targeted
22 Apr 02 | UK
Wildlife crime in the UK
16 Feb 00 | Sci/Tech
UK targets wildlife smugglers
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