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Falconry The Traditional Sport of Arabia

Updated on March 12, 2012
Falcon's head covered with hood
Falcon's head covered with hood
A part of Falcon training
A part of Falcon training


Arabian Falconry

Falcon is the national bird of UAE and it is the symbol of force and courage. It is coming under the family “hawk”.This magnificent bird’s size ranges from 15 to 60 centimetres. This majestic bird can streak through the air in a display of grandeur and tenacity. A flurry of talons, razor sharp beak and aerobatic display are very peculiar. The female birds are larger than the male birds.

Falconry :- Falconry or hawking is a traditional sport and it is originated from Central Asia and spread to Persia and Arabian Peninsula and Europe. Arabian Falconry is a part of the culture and identity of UAE people . The aim of this event is to preserve falconry as an important element of UAE heritage and they want to preserve it for future generation . The first international Falconry conference (IFC) was inaugurated by Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1976.

Sport of royalty : It is referred to as a sport of royalty because lower classes couldn’t afford to train or keep birds. Falcons, hawks and eagles were trained to hunt small game or other birds. Falconer and Falcon are the important astonishing partners. Falconer is the one who give training to birds for hunting.

Falcon Training :- The first step of Falcon training is to tames the Falcon and make familiar with surroundings. The eyes of the Falcon is covered with a leather hood and gives very little food.

The bird is restricted by a short cord around its ankle part which is attached to a wooden perch on a stand or wakker in sand and it will prevent flying. The falconer will hold the cord. Falconer always will call the bird by its name for recognising his sound. As the training progresses falconer will remove the hood from its eye. He allows it to fly a short distance . The Falcon has to catch the bundle of feathers thrown by the Falconer. Every time it will reward with meat. Final part of the training is with live prey like pigeon. After catching the prey Falconer has to distract it with meat. It teaches Falcon not to kill its prey immediately on capture. The prey must be alive on capturing and the hunter will eat according to their beliefs.

The training is very expensive because the bird need special cages called mews and other necessary equipments for their care and training.

The houbara bustard is the traditional prey of Falconry. The breeding programme of this is in Morocco and in Al Ain zoo. These centres will breed the birds and will release them into the wild will maintain the number of houbara bustard.

Falcon Passport :- The Falcon passport issue started in 2002 in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Northern Emirates. It prevents illegal trading of Falcon. Birds country of orgin, permit number and date of its last export or import are the main entries in the passport.

CITES :- Under CITES(Convention of international Trade in Endangered species of wild Fauna and Flora)gives protection to the endangered species. It can prevent illegal trade of Falcon. All species mentioned in CITES appendices needs a special permit for travelling other countries.

The Falconry Festival :- It is one of the best festivals of UAE. It will attracts lot of visitors and tourists. Abu Dhabi authority for culture and heritage (Adach) organized second international Festival of Falconry in Al Ain in Dec.2011. It represents inherited traditions and social values and rich cultural heritage. The UAE ranked first for preserving and breeding Falcon programmes.

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