As expected we are still receving transmissions from 09’s radio in exactly the same location in the south of Morocco. This confirms that he has either died, or the transmitter has fallen off.
We have received an incredible response to our appeal for help. As luck would have it Frederic Lacroix, who lives in Agadir, was planning to travel to the south of Morocco tomorrow on a photographic trip and he has offered to go and look for 09. If he fails, then another team, led by wildlife film-maker Lahoucine Faouzi, have kindly agreed to travel to the area on Friday and look for 09 on Saturday. So either way, we should know what has happened by the end of the weekend. This really is a fantastic outcome and we are very grateful to Frederic and Lahoucine and his team for their help.
As we wait for news, myself and the team at Rutland have been discussing what may have happened. The most likely scenario, we think, is that poor weather – or perhaps sandstorms – forced 09 to land on the ridge on 11th September. As an experienced migrator, he would have known not to set out across the Sahara if conditions were poor for flying. Sadly, once there, he may have been predated by an Eagle Owl or even a Bonelli’s Eagle. Both species are capable of taking a bird as large as an Osprey and both occur in this southern part of Morocco. The alternative, of course, is that the transmitter fell off while 09 was perched there. Hopefully either Frederic or Lahoucine will be able to provide an answer. And let’s hope it is the latter.
Amazingly, whilst looking at the various land forms on Google Earth, we realised that we flew over the exact spot that we are receiving transmissions from, in January 2011 en route to West Arica. The photo below was taken by John Wright from the plane that day and I have marked on 09’s position. This shows what a remote, inhospitable place it is, so good luck to Frederic and Lahoucine in their search for 09. We’ll report any news as soon as we have it.