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Monday, 10 June, 2002, 13:37 GMT 14:37 UK
Geese 'phone' home
Tagged goose (Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust)
Six male light-bellied brent geese have been tagged

Bird lovers have a new use for their mobile phones - tracking the marathon journey of migrating geese.

Anyone sponsoring one of six geese that carry satellite tags will be sent a weekly text message.

It gives the bird's exact location, as the species - the light-bellied brent goose - migrates from the west of Ireland to Canada to breed.

The route of the 7,000 kilometre trip is being plotted on the web and will be used to help protect the goose.

UK conservation body, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, is behind the project.

Oscar calling

The six tagged geese are named Hugh, Oscar, Major Ruttledge, Austin, Kerry and Arnthor.

They have already flown over the Greenland ice cap, one of the most perilous parts of the journey.

The data will be used by scientists to assess whether rising sea levels, habitat destruction or hunting poses a future threat to the birds.

The epic journey - one of the longest migrations of any species of goose - is being plotted on the web.

The scheme was officially launched on Monday at Castle Espie in Northern Ireland.

Bird ringtones

Managing Director Tony Richardson said it was important that people could share the experience by linking to the website.

He told BBC News Online: "Not only are the geese themselves going to benefit in the long term but people will become more interested and therefore more amenable to understanding what conservation is all about."

The sponsorship, which costs 75 a year, is the latest conservation scheme tied to mobile phones.

The RSPB recently launched a series of mobile phone ringtones.

Users can download bird songs, from the blackbird to the rough-legged buzzard, with part of the proceeds going to support conservation efforts.

See also:

06 Jun 02 | Scotland
21 Nov 00 | Science/Nature
03 Oct 01 | Science/Nature
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