Fact Check: Eagle Catching Citizen TV Drone During Azimio Rally
In addition, the photo was also circulated by supporters of the Kenya Kwanza coalition under Deputy President William Ruto
On Saturday, August 6, social media was awash with photos of an eagle snatching a drone during the final Azimio la Umoja mega rally at the Kasarani stadium.
To further fuel the claims, the eagle was reported to have snatched the drone belonging to Royal Media Services' (RMS) Citizen TV which was offering live coverage of the Azimio presidential candidate, Raila Odinga, making his final submission before the August 9 general elections.
In addition, the photo was also circulated by supporters of the Kenya Kwanza coalition under Deputy President William Ruto, who was hosting the coalition's final mega rally concurrently at the Nyayo National Stadium.
One of the reports insinuating that the eagle caught a drone in Kenya during the Azimio final mega rally on August 6, 2022. /FACEBOOK
Supporters of both sides began clashing over the incident, making multiple claims that the bird of prey had caught the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) device, adding that it was a bad omen for both candidates.
The photo was intercepted by Viral Tea and upon a reverse search, it was revealed that the image did not stem from either of the rallies nor was it taken in Kenya.
It was traced to photographer Koen Van Weel, who took the picture in March 2016. It documents a trained eagle, from the Guard from Above company, wrapping its talons around a drone during a police exercise in the Netherlands.
“An eagle of the Guard from Above company, grasps a drone during a police exercise in Katwijk, on March 7, 2016. The bird of prey can get drones from the air by catching them with his legs.” the image was captioned by Getty Images.
The eagles were used by police in the Netherlands to bring down rogue drones which were being used to commit crimes. However, they were retired in 2017 after a number of issues arose during the exercise.
The low-tech solution first hit the headlines in early 2016 when Dutch law enforcement showed off the seemingly impressive skills of their feathered friends.
Drones such as DJI’s Phantom 4 machine were no match for the bird of prey, its sharp talons and equally sharp eyesight able to pinpoint and pluck a drone from the sky in a single, lightning-fast manoeuvre.
According to local media, the eagles didn’t always do what was expected of them, which presumably means they were occasionally distracted by other things happening around them during training sessions.
In addition, eagle lovers had begun expressing concern that the drones, which come with fast-spinning propellers, would result in serious injuries to the eagles in bringing down the rogue drones.
The Netherlands was the first country to tackle rogue drones in this way, and Dutch police revealed that they were looking at other options as they moved the eagles to a shelter.
The US Air Force, meanwhile, has been conducting research on falcons and how they target prey to develop defense systems against drones.
A black kite taking flight in Kenya. /iNATURALIST