Russian eagle with GPS collar runs up ‘astronomical’ data charge for scientists after flying out of country

Bird travelled almost 3,000 miles to Iran - hitting researchers with monster bill

Colin Drury
Monday 04 November 2019 15:53 GMT
Russian eagle with GPS collar runs up ‘astronomical’ data charge for scientists after flying out of country

A Russian eagle being monitored by scientists via a GPS tracker has cost them a small fortune in roaming charges – after it flew out the country.

The migrating bird, named Min, was fitted with a device designed to text its coordinates back to researchers.

But they had not reckoned on the Steppe eagle– which usually migrate to southern Russia or Kazakhstan – taking a 3,000-mile scenic route and spending a large amount of time out of range, before arriving inIran.

From there, hundreds of text messages were hit with a 49 rouble (60p) roaming tariff – leading to the monster bill.

The scientists, from Russian Raptor Research and Conservation Network, were monitoring 13 birds in their routes from Siberia.

But Min is said to have first flown to an area without mobile coverage, meaning her messages were held back for four months.

She, then, travelled almost 3,000 miles onto Iran, where the backlog was released, meaning all previous messages were sent in one go.

Researcher Elena Schneider said: “She sent us (all at once) hundreds of expensive SMSs with her summer locations...spending the entire collective (phone) budget for our eagles.”

The cost is said to have been in the tens of thousands of roubles.

The scientists revealed their predicament this week when they launched a crowdfunding bid to pay off the “astronomical” bill.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

But the adventure had a happy ending on Friday: after learning of the team’s dilemma on Friday, mobile phone operator Megafon said it would cancel the debt and put the project on a special, cheaper tariff.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in