GSM-tracked stork disappears with a €2000+ phone bill


Published: 2018-06-18 14:13

Last Updated: 2018-06-18 17:35

Kajtka was lost during its winter migration to Africa. (Grupa EkoLogiczna)
Kajtka was lost during its winter migration to Africa. (Grupa EkoLogiczna)
Roya News Source

Grupa EkoLogiczna, a group of Polish zoologists, have been mounting small GSM transmitters on wild animals in order to observe the winter migration route of these the wild birds. Such scientific researches aim at collecting enough data to analyze the behavior of storks during their long-distance journeys, which ultimately contributes to helping and protecting this species and its natural habitats.

In a recent incident, and while EkoLogiczna association was tracking four storks in their winter migration to Africa, an adult stork named Kajtka was lost.

In October 2017, Kajtka was set up with a GSM transmitter and started its journey of 6,154 km. Reaching sunny Arica after 52 days, it flew over Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and more.

However, EkoLogiczna reported that “Kajtka remained in the Sudanese Nile Valley until April 26, 2018” where track-records showed a non-linear movement of 25 KM within the same area. Ten days later, transmission was cut.

At first, scientists were not extremely worried as such disconnections do occur in certain areas where signal-coverage is weak or absent. However, it was a surprise when EkoLogiczna received a €2,300 phone bill regarding the inaccessible GSM chip.

The bill, which EkoLogiczna received on Thursday June 7, 2018, only means that “someone must have taken the SIM card out of the transmitter, put it into his own mobile and kept dialing up,” according to Ireneusz Kaługa, EkoLogiczna's chairman.

Some people expressed their concern regarding the continuation of GSM use in tracking wild animals, worrying that this might make them targets for the potential “free calls”. Others suggested that the use of the traditional ‘leg’ rings is way safer.

Grupa EkoLogiczna explained that such integrated technologies are more efficient and help advance studies; “In one year, a transmitter collects more data than a thousand rings would in a decade. It's a good method. It just needs to be improvement.”

Up until now, Katjtka's whereabouts remain unknown.