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.