Falcon with chip inside has Rajasthan security agencies in a flap

Residents of Kesrisinghpur village in Sriganganagar district caught the bird on November 18 after spotting a “strange thing” protruding from it.

jaipur Updated: Nov 26, 2017 21:47 IST
Aparnesh Goswami
Aparnesh Goswami
Hindustan Times, Bikaner
The falcon, which was caught by the Rajasthan villagers. (HT Photo)

A peregrine falcon, the fastest animal in the world, caught by villagers a few kilometres off the Pakistan border has triggered a flutter among security agencies after discovery of a chip inside its body, Rajasthan police said on Sunday.

Bordering villages of Rajasthan and security agencies are accustomed to seeing birds, including pigeons and eagles, flying in from over the border and have trapped a few over the years, suspecting they were being used for spying, but this one was different, police added.

“An X-ray done on Saturday revealed there was some kind of a chip inside the bird. It is under one of the bird’s wings,” said Deeksha Kamra, additional superintendent of police of the criminal investigation department (CID), Sriganganagar.

The X-ray plate which revealed some kind of a chip inside of the bird. (HT Photo)

Residents of Kesrisinghpur village in Sriganganagar district caught the bird on November 18 after spotting a “strange thing” protruding from it, said police. The bird was fitted with a transmitter, an antenna and rings stamped with some numbers around its claw, police added. Ringing of birds is common to keep track of them, but the chip’s discovery has security agencies worried.

“The X-ray inspection was done to check if it possessed any objectionable spying instrument inside its body or wings. This was done as a precautionary measure as the bird could have been used to send across a message across the border,” said Kamra.

Police are verifying information from a bird conservation activist that the falcon belongs to a Qatari in Pakistan. The activist told the police details of the falcon’s owner are stamped on the transmitter and the rings are tagged. He claimed to have contacted a Qatar-based nature history group over email and acquired details including a phone number, said police.

“When the activist called the number, a person who identified himself as the Qatari’s son answered and said his father was in Pakistan and their falcon was missing,” said a police officer privy to the developments around the bird’s capture.

Police have handed over the falcon to wildlife authorities in Bikaner, where the X-ray scan was conducted at a veterinary hospital.

Wildlife authorities are waiting for instructions to operate on the bird to remove the chip. Peregrine falcons are known to reach speeds in excess of 320 km per hour while diving.

First Published: Nov 26, 2017 20:33 IST