Obvious really, but great

The Eagle phones home to say it has landed. But the texts are no crossing a border, bankrupting the monitoring budget.

Once he landed near a rubbish dump in Iran, it began sending hundreds of text messages of GPS data, costing the programme’s shoestring budget up to 7,000 roubles (£85) a day. Each text from Iran is priced at 49 roubles, about 25 times more than in Russia and three times more than in Kazakhstan.

Min’s data quickly used up all the researchers’ phone credit, which had already been depleted by three other eagles that flew to Iran, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, SibEco Centre ornithologist Yelena Shnaider told The Telegraph. The researchers even had to take out a loan.

“He wasn’t in touch all summer … We were happy to get a text from him,” she said. “We had expected to get it from Kazakhstan but suddenly he’s in Iran, and we started to get his summer locations at three times the price.”

“But Min’s a good boy, about a week ago he left Iran and went to Saudi Arabia where it’s cheaper,” she added.

Since she called on supporters to “put money on the eagle’s phone,” more than 250,000 roubles (£3,000) have been raised, enough to track all 13 birds through the end of the year.

Rather a fun story. No grand point to it, just like it.

11 thoughts on “Obvious really, but great”

  1. In a similar vein, I was chatting to a chap at work the other day who had been sent to Saudi Arabia in the past. The company told him to install an app on his phone so that they could track his location and send him warnings in the event that they needed to extract him asap. The finance people soon complained about the cost of the data that this app was using…

  2. Nice. Wondering if they could batch up the locations, compress the data and pack a few of them into a single SMS…

  3. Didn’t I read somewhere that the middle eastern locals tend to shoot suspicious looking birds as Israeli spies? If they found the bird had been texting home, that would surely confirm it.

    (I binged ‘birds killed as Israeli spies’ and found a few stories including one where the Turks detained a small bird on suspicion of spying for the jews, but fortunately it managed to ditch it’s mobile before it was caught so they cleared it.)

  4. It’s a pity the budget doesn’t run to video: that’s a fabulous journey, I would love to see. They need sponsorship next time.

  5. The follow-up is that the Russian mobile ‘phone company put the eagles on a cheaper tariff after the fund-raising to pay the bill became a top story.

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