Yemeni Government forces detained the bird on suspicion that an attached GPS tracker was a spy device for Houthi militants.
The griffon vulture ‘Nelson’ had migrated from Bulgaria to Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. He was in search of food, but ended up in the hands of Yemeni fighters in the country’s third city of Taiz - and was jailed for suspected espionage.
Two-year-old Nelson had embarked on his journey in September 2018 from Bulgaria, where he had been tagged and fitted with a satellite transmitter by the Fund for Wild Fauna and Flora (FWFF).
The FWFF representative in Yemen travelled from the rebel-held capital, Sanaa, to Taiz to plead with local officials to release Nelson. The bird was released after 12 days and, although reported to be in a bad condition and underweight, is now getting stronger every day.
Birds have been used in the past as wartime couriers, but blatantly not in this case . .