Citizens of the South Lebanese village of Bint Jbeil thought they captured a vulture carrying Israeli spy equipment Thursday, only to find the equipment strapped to its leg was actually a university tracking device.
This is the latest in a long line of incidents in which Lebanese citizens have captured animals they believe to have been outfitted with espionage equipment by the Israelis. Three months ago, the village of Kfar Kila captured what they claimed to be an “Israeli vulture,” and in 2013 ornithologist professor Yossi Leshem claimed to have captured an eagle spying for Israel. In August, Hamas even said it had captured a dolphin strapped with spy tech.
Training an army of animals as super weapons seems a lot more inconspicuous than the invisible drones Israel could surely afford, and China has done pretty well stealing secrets with plain old hackers, but at least they’re not training squirrels to eavesdrop, which is a thing that happened. Allegedly.
In this latest incident, once they realized the griffon vulture’s leg gear was intended for scientific research and not spying, they released the bird.
Hareetz reports the vulture, with a wingspan of 6-feet-5-inches, was originally brought from Spain to Israel to help increase reproduction of endangered species. The homing device on its leg was put there by Tel Aviv University.
The Israeli scientists set it free in a nature reserve in Golan Heights not long before it was spotted roughly three miles from the border, where it was captured by the South Lebanese. The Bint Jbeil citizens said they captured the bird out of fear it would attack them.
Israeli researchers say the vulture was in need of medical treatment and they haven’t received signs of life from it since the South Lebanese set it free.