Israel uses American, German mediation to retrieve potential spy-pelican information from Sudan.
An urgent operation was called for. A sophisticated transmitter with valuable data in its GPS that contained flight paths, eating habits and daily activity was lost somewhere along the Blue Nile and needed to be quietly retrieved and returned to the right hands in Israel.
But one of the birds was trapped and died in a fisherman’s net in southern Sudan. The father of the fisherman retrieved the transmitter from its back. Instead of turning it over to authorities; he noticed a German e-mail address imprinted on the device and sent a message that they had found it.
Since Israel and Sudan have no formal diplomatic relations, third parties were called in and American and German figures were able get hold of the transmitter before it fell into the wrong hands.
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“We trapped and marked six great white pelicans with satellite GSM and GPS transmitters and wing tags,” Ohad Hatzofe, an avian ecologist for Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority (NPA), told The Media Line. “It was used to monitor and better understand pelican movements …. None of it is for espionage, as sometimes we are accused of by our neighbors in the Middle East, unfortunately.”
Normally, tracking animals and birds for scientific purposes would not have required such sleuthing. But an increasing paranoia of Israeli zoological militancy conspiracy theories has made such incidents fodder for claims Israel was using wild animals to spy or attack people.
Last January, Saudi Arabia claimed to have detained an eagle for being a Mossad spy.... Earlier, the south Sinai governor suggested that a shark that killed a tourist in Sharm el-Sheikh had been intentionally released by the Mossad to sabotage tourism in the area.
“Anyone who would use wild animals for spying is a world criminal because that would be the end of wild life,” Hatzofe said. “You could use wild animals to rescue people. I don’t know how, but maybe there is justification for that. But to use them for espionage? Well, we would be the last ones to do that.”