Falconry

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Understanding Culture - Falconry

The symbol of the falcon remains a powerful one in the UAE. It is a national symbol and a heraldic emblem. For Emiratis, the falcon represents their history and reminds them of their struggle for survival in the desert. Falcons are still kept by many Emiratis.. 

 

 

Falconry is still a popular sport in the Gulf  both with the current UAE Sheikhs and their people. There are local falconry clubs and even a television programme. During the winter when the weather is cooler,, Emiratis as well as other Arabs such as Syrians and Iraqis, drive into the desert outside of Dubai to train their birds for hunting or the racing competitions organised by the Sheikhs. New technology means that falcons are sometimes exercised using lures on model aircraft.

The falcons used are usually captive breed and can be worth many thousands of pounds depending on the species. It is now illegal to trade in wild birds Falcons are ringed to identify them, as well as being micro-chipped.

Falconry is strictly controlled by both federal and local emirate laws. These ensure that the falcons are well-treated and kept in good conditions.  There is even a programme for releasing falcons back to the wild after the hunting season.

This Sheikh Zayed Falcon Release Project is run by the  Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency (ERWDA), and was initiated as a result of Sheikh Zayed's desire that the falcons he used for hunting every year should should continue to live in their natural state and not be completely domesticated. Birds are put into isolation at the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital and are given check-ups to ensure that only healthy birds are released into the wild.

The falcons that are due for release are exercised to ensure that they are released in peak condition. They also receive extra food to increase their weight and improve their chances of survival when they are first released to the wild. The birds are released close to the migratory routes of wild falcons.

 

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