A Saudi hunter lured an Israeli falcon fitted with GPS systems by slaughtering one of his sheep and dumping it in the area where the vulture was flying, a newspaper in the Gulf Kingdom reported on Sunday.
Sayyad Al Rashidi from the northwestern town of Hail said he felt curious when he saw the vulture fitted with a “strange” system and decided to capture it alive.
“I slaughtered a sheep and placed it in that area as a bait…..the bird quickly came close to the sheep and started eating its meat,” Rashidi said, quoted by the online Arabic language daily Sharq.
“Before I caught it, I likened it to an aircraft which needs to taxi on the tarmac before it flies…so I rushed to the bird and caught it before it started to fly…I found that it was fitted with systems carrying Hebrew language.”
Saudi officials have said the griffon vulture was carrying a GPS transmitter bearing the name of Tel Aviv University.
The vulture, which can have a wing span of up to 265cm (8ft 8in), was caught after it landed in Hail close to the northern border with Jordan.
"The device does nothing more than receive and store basic data about the bird's whereabouts, and about his altitude and speed," a bird specialist at Israel's Park and Nature Authority said after the falcon was captured.
In its report Sunday, Sharq said a Saudi royal family member refused to give details of the incident but indicated that the bird was on a scientific mission.
It said Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, assistant defence minister, was replying to a question by local reporters about the capture of the vulture.
“I think you have to ask the wildlife officials about this but such birds are always seen in many countries as they are used to measure distances,” he said.