It's a case of theft that gives new meaning to highway robbery.
What started as an exercise in wildlife photography in New Zealand for Peter Leach has cost the former Royal Navy employee over a thousand dollars in stolen cash. But Leach's robber was no mugger, but rather, a kea — birds native to New Zealand known for their crafty brains, but also for their mischievous ways.
According to Leach, who was visiting New Zealand from Scotland, he pulled over at a rest area alongside State Highway 73 to do some sightseeing of famed national park Arthur's Pass when the bird stopped nearby. Leach snapped a photo of the kea and continued to take in the sights, while unbeknownst to him, the bird swooped into Leach's campervan through an open window, according to the Scottish Daily Record.
The Glasgow resident had left the equivalent of $1,100CDN in a small cloth drawstring bag on the dashboard. The kea then allegedly grabbed the bag and flew off, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. It wasn't until a Canadian couple told Leach about the incident that he realized what had happened.
"[They] walked by and said: 'We've just seen that bird take something out of your campervan'," said Leach, adding that the bird left him with the equivalent of just over $30CDN in his pockets.
This isn't the first time keas have caused trouble for tourists — back in 2009, another traveller from Scotland has his passport stolen by a kea after it flew off with the man's carrier bag. Fortunately for Leach, the kea only made off with his money, and the 52-year-old retiree's friends have loaned him some cash to continue his trip. He's also reported the matter to local police, who've told him that his chances of recovering his funds are slim, notes the Daily Telegraph.
According to New Zealand's Department of Conservation, keas are rated as one of the most intelligent birds in the world, thanks to their inquisitive natures — a by-product of scavenging food in New Zealand's alpine environments. They're also a protected species, something tourists should keep in mind if they're thinking of taking vengeance against the crafty creatures.
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