Stork down, phone bill up, poacher calls mama

Kajtek the stork, apple of Polish zoologists’ eyes, as all respectable Polish storks do, took himself off to Africa. His carers from the Ecologic Group were able to track the volant vagrant’s flight by mounting a GSM transmitter to his back.

After crossing around 6,154 km in 52 days, flying over Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt, Kajtek reached his destination in Sudan on October 7, 2017.

Having spent a jolly time in sunlit Africa, the stork embarked on a return journey to Poland, setting out in February 2018.

However, “for unknown reasons, Kajtek remained in the Nile valley until April 26, 2018, moving about in various directions 25 km per day,” recounted the ecologists.

On that day, the carers could not hear a dicky bird from Kajtek as the transmitter went silent. First came grief, then an utter surprise when the ecologists received a mobile phone bill of PLN 10,000 (EUR 2,334.84).

“Someone must have taken the sim card out of the transmitter, put it into his own mobile and kept dialing up,” informed the Ecologic Group, adding that the ecologists plan on failing a complaint to the provider.

Given the dire African poverty, this turn of events comes as no surprise to the zoologists, for transmitters such as the one mounted on late Kajtek’s back fall a valuable loot to destitute individuals.

According to latest estimates, there are around 45,000 storks in Poland. The number has dropped over the years, not due to Sudanese poachers’ activity, however, but, perhaps, to better living conditions in Spain that estimates its storks to number 48,000.