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Vulture Arrested In Yemen On Suspicion Of Being A 'Spy'

A poor vulture has been detained in Yemen after it was suspected of being a spy.

The Griffon vulture, named Nelson, was tagged by the Fund for Wild Fauna and Flora (FWFF) with a GPS transmitter last year to track its migration.

Nelson began his cross-continental journey in September last year, leaving Bulgaria in search of food.

Nelson the Griffon vulture. Image: Getty Images

But it seems to have become lost, landing in the southwestern Yemen city of Taez, only to be arrested and detained.

Taez is controlled by pro-government forces but is under siege from Huthi rebels. Government force arrested the bird, believing the GPS tracker was a spy device planted by the rebels.

A representative of FWFF, Hisham al-Hoot, travelled to Yemen to plead for the release of the bird.

"It took about 12 days to get the bird," he told AFP.

"The Bulgarian foreign ministry reached out to the Yemeni ambassador, who in turn contacted local officials (in Taez) and told them to immediately give the organisation the vulture."

Hisham al-Hoot and Nelson. Image: Getty Images

The bird was tracked from Bulgaria to Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and into Yemen, where the FWFF lost track of him, until they were contacted by concerned Yemenis about his welfare.

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When he was eventually found by the FWFF he was underweight, said al-Hoot.

"When we first took him, he was in very bad condition," he said.

The transmitter thought to be a spying device. Image: Getty Images

Nelson is being cared for as he recovers from a broken wing suffered during his travels, and is expected to be released back into the wild in two months.

"We thought at first it would take six months for him to heal, but now we don't think it will be more than two months," al-Hoot said.