Fri, Oct 04, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Eagle aims to film climate effects on glaciers


Aerial footage shot by a camera attached to an eagle shows a glacier in Europe in an undated photograph.

Photo: AP

Filmed with a camera mounted between its wings, a white-tailed eagle named Victor is to show how it sees the world as it flies over the Alps to capture glaciers said to be crumbling because of global warming.

Victor is to embark upon five flights this week over the Alps.

Organizers hope his spectacular eagle’s-view footage will help jolt the world out of climate-change apathy and toward swifter action to combat its effects.

His handler hopes that seeing the world as an eagle sees it will also convince viewers of the importance of protecting birds and their environments.

“Humanity has two dreams: to swim with dolphins and fly with eagles,” French falconer and Freedom Conservation founder Jacques-Olivier Travers said. “This is the first time that we’ll really ride on an eagle’s back over such distances and such vistas, and see how he flies.”

“How can you convince people to protect the birds and their environment if you never show them what the birds see?” Travers said.

Weather permitting, the nine-year-old Victor was to set off yesterday from the top of Piz Corvatsch with a 360° camera on his back and a GPS device to track his progress.

He is fly in Germany, Austria and Italy, before ending his mountain tour in France on Monday next week.

A colleague is to release Victor from the top of each peak. During each flight, the eagle is to fly 3km to 5km and descend 1,500m to 3,000m in search of Travers below.

“I don’t have a remote control. So if he doesn’t see me and decides not to come to me, he could go anywhere,” Travers said.

That is why the flights are weather dependent. If Victor’s vision is obscured by clouds, “he won’t come,” he said. “It’s essential that he sees me.”

Carrying a camera does slow Victor down.

“It’s a bit like putting a washing machine on the roof of your car. You don’t go as fast and you use more energy,” Travers said. “It’s the same for him. He doesn’t fly as fast with that on his back and it demands a greater effort from him.”

Victor’s earlier flights over Paris and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, garnered millions of views, and organizers hope the bird’s heavy lifting will yield powerful images.

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