Swans fitted with Radio Transmitters

Radio-telemetry is a tool widely used in wildlife research.
The most common use is to study the migratory path
and the home range of animals or birds. Weight of the
battery had been a problem with regard to birds which has
to fly with the "pay load" of the transmitter with its battery.
This is now overcome by using solar powered satellite
transmitters.

Now new use of these radio-telemetry devices is to chart
the spread of birds' diseases. Currently, scientists are
trying to track down the course of the disease bird flu
which is  affecting poultry industry and posing a pandemic
condition for human beings.

Outfitting swans with super-light Teflon backpacks
containing solar-powered GPS satellite transmitters is the
latest way scientists and researchers are trying to fight the
spread of avian influenza. Ten whooper swans were
captured in far eastern Mongolia, near the borders of
Russia and China, by an international team  of scientists in
early August as part of a study to shed light on how wild
birds may be involved in spreading bird flu.

The whooper swans were chosen for the experiment
because large numbers of the species have died in
Mongolia and western China in the past two years. Hence,
they may be acting as a reservoir host for the virus.

Perhaps, a novel use for solar energy...

                                                                               Toronto, September 2006
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