Officials in Sudan say they have captured an electronically-tagged vulture suspected of being dispatched by Israel on a spying mission. The avian discovery was made in Kereinek, a town in the Darfur region of western Sudan, Israeli media have reported.
Sudanese officials are said to have concluded that the bird was a secret
agent after discovering it was fitted with GPS and solar-powered equipment
capable of broadcasting images via satellite. The vulture also had a tag attached to its leg with "Israel Nature Service"
and "Hebrew University, Jerusalem", leading to accusations that it was on an
Israeli surveillance mission.
The reports follow allegations by Sudan that Israel carried out the bombing
of a munitions depot near the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, in October, after
jamming the country's radar defences. Israel has made no comment on the raid, which left two people dead. The arms
depot was said to be supplying weapons to the Palestinian militant group Hamas
Israeli officials have acknowledged that the bird, which can fly up to 375
miles a day, had been tagged with Israeli equipment but insisted it was being
used to study migration patterns. Ohad Hazofe, an ecologist with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, said that it was one of 100 vultures fitted in October with a GPS
system equipped to take distance and altitude readings but not surveillance
images. "That's the only way we knew something had happened to the bird – all of a
sudden it stopped flying and started travelling on the ground," he said.