Alleged spying stork detained in Egypt
By Caroline Jacobsson, Tue, 03/09/2013 - 07:29
An injured white stork was caught by a concerned citizen near Qena, Egypt last Saturday and was handed over to the police as a suspicious looking device the bird was carrying was thought to be a tool of espionage.
After MME (BirdLife Hungary) contacted its local partner Nature Conservation Egypt - NCE, it soon became clear that the stork was born and ringed in Hungary. The "suspicious looking" device was really a GPS tracker, and had been fit by colleagues at MME as part of the programme ‘Birds without Borders’ as a way to collect information on the routes of migratory birds.
Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities has examined both stork and the tracker and consider them no threat to national security. According to Dr. Fatma Tammam, Undersecretary of State for Egyptian Zoos and Wildlife Conservation, the captured white stork is currently under the care of the Veterinary Authority in Qena, awaiting a decision from the Qena Prosecutor's Office release.
Dr Tammam, together with the Nature Conservation Sector of the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) and Nature Conservation Egypt (NCE), are all following the release of the stork closely. Ménes, as the stork is called, was hatched near Szécsény, Hungary along with four siblings.
They were all ringed on 1 July. Their mother was also ringed so her life history is also well-known. She was born in 2009 and laid eggs for the first time in 2013. The GPS tracker Ménes was carrying was fit in early August. Unfortunately his brother Pöstyén suffered a fatal electrocution in southern Romania not long after he started his journey.
The satellite tracker shows exactly which route Ménes chose: Ménes remained close to his home until mid August when he flew to the Hortobágy area together with a small team of storks. They circled the area for a while and then left the country heading for Romania on 18 August.
The next day he crossed the Carpathians. After spending a night near the Danube River he crossed the Bulgarian border. He arrived in Turkey on 22 August via a rather unusual route as he chose to fly over the Sea of Marmara instead of the Bosporus arriving in Syria on the 26th spending an evening in Aleppo near Damascus.
He then chose to cross the border to Jordan and entered Israel on the 29th. He flew over the Red Sea the next day, arriving in the Nile Valley. At that point he had covered more than 3,700 kilometres in less than two weeks. This is when he was captured, as the GPS tracker stopped transmitting for two days. Follow Ménes’s route via Satellitetracking.eu