CNN reports that a griffon vulture that flew into Lebanon from an Israeli nature reserve has been captured and detained on suspicion of spying for the Jewish state. The Gamla Nature Reserve tracked the bird to the vicinity of the southern Lebanese village of Bint Jbeil, located just a few miles from the Israeli border. Reports soon began trickling in that the bird was being held by locals who suspected the giant raptor was a spy because it sported Israeli tags and devices.
Soon after, a series of photos surfaced. One showed the bird’s (Israeli!) tags and a rope tied around its legs. Another highlighted a transmitter on the raptor’s back. Yet another exhibited two men displaying the bird’s massive wingspan. The vulture has a metal ring on its leg, courtesy of Tel Aviv University, tags on both wings and a GPS transmitter attached to its tail, so that scientists can identify the bird and track its movements. The bird is part of a conservation project with the goal of restoring the species to its former range throughout the Middle East. A range, incidentally, many, many times larger than the state of Israel.
The bird is just one of many animals detained in the region over the years on suspicion of spying for the Israelis. A little over a year ago I reported on a stork that was jailed in Egypt under nearly identical circumstances. (See "Stork Busters" post of 11/9/2014, replete with a photo of the poor bird languishing in a dingy jail cell).