On a weekend in America dedicated to eating dead birds, an innocent and endangered bird became the most recent victim of Afghanistan’s fight against the Taliban. Motherboard reports that on Saturday Afghan police killed a “suspicious-looking” bird on a roadside because it was wearing an antenna, which they saw as a sign the bird could be wearing a bomb.
Animals have been used to deliver explosives in the past, but it turned out this houbara, an endangered North African and Middle Eastern bird, was not one of them. The antenna was attached to a GPS and a camera used to monitor the activities and status of the bird, which was a research subject for the Emirates Center for Conservation of Houbara (ECCH) in neighboring Uzbekistan – according to a tag found on its carcass. While it was once plentiful and a favorite of falconers in the region, Motherboard notes that the Houbara is now listed as a “vulnerable” species, just shy of the “endangered” rating.
But the bird was a long way from home and not normally seen in the area of Afghanistan where it was shot, so when combined with the antenna on it and the long history of using animals for war measures, the police had some grounds to take action against the suspicious fowl.
Motherboard notes that all manner of animals have been used for purposes of war, ranging from a donkey used by Palestinians to deliver explosives against the Israelis, to pigeon-guided missiles used by the U.S. and Soviet anti-tank dogs in World War II. Way back in history, around 240 A.D., the Romans were known to use a wild pig as a war weapon; by coating it in tar, lighting it on fire and sending it to run into enemy lines.