Macaques, falcons trained to protect air force from birds

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The Chinese Air Force is training macaques and falcons to help protect their jets from the threat of flying birds, which could jam and ultimately destroy a flying jet, the Beijing News reported.

A macaque dismantles a bird nest in a tree. (Photo/Beijing News)

A macaque dismantles a bird nest in a tree. (Photo/Beijing News) 

The experiment started in April 2014 when an Air Force base in an unspecified location adopted three macaques, said Ma Junliang, an Air Force trainer. After three months, the macaques could follow Ma's orders to dismantle bird nests in trees.

Two of the macaques, named "Qitian" and "Ziyun," can get rid of a nest in approximately one minute. Ma needs to shout "hurry up" at times to encourage the hesitant monkeys, who receive rewards like corn for a job well-done.

Military official Han Bing is hailing the macaque method as cost-effective, low-risk, efficient and the first of its kind in the world.

In addition, the Air Force troop also keeps 10 falcons that are used to drive birds away from the air base. When trainer Ma Wengang blows a whistle, the falcons take off, and then hover within approximately 100 meters of the trainer. This scares other birds away from the area.

The falcons do not need to prey on other birds; their presence simply drives off. They are usually launched two hours before the jets, with three or four falcons needed each day to do the job.

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