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Sustainable falconry practices highlighted at ADIHEX

posted on 05/09/2013: 2480 views



The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD), the Emirate's environmental regulator, is highlighting several of the UAE's ground-breaking contributions to sustainable falconry practices at the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (ADIHEX), which opened yesterday.

EAD's presence at ADHIEX is being facilitated through its Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital on Stand no. 10B20, which was set up by the agency in 1999 and is today the largest public falcon hospital in the world. Since it was established, this multi award-winning hospital has cared for more than 55,000 patients from the Gulf region, treating and examining more than 7,000 falcons each year.

The Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital (ADFH) also operates the Abu Dhabi Animal Shelter. In 2012, a total of 462 animals (including 238 dogs, 207 cats and 17 small pets like rabbits and guinea pigs) were adopted, while over 8,000 stray cats and dogs were neutered as part of the Abu Dhabi government's TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release) programme.

Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary-General of the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD), said, "Our presence at ADIHEX allows us to interact with avid hunting enthusiasts, as well as nature and animal lovers. The exhibition is the ideal platform for us to stress the importance of ethical hunting in our capacity as a regulator and conserver of bio-diversity. At the same time, the exhibition will be a great opportunity for us to raise awareness of how far the UAE has come in terms of positive contributions to sustainable falconry practices." Dr. Margit Muller, Director of ADFH said, "Our participation at ADIHEX enables us to connect with our customers from the Gulf region through the live examinations we conduct on falcons. We are also keen to showcase our animal shelter where people can adopt the cats and dogs we have in the stand as a way to support animal welfare in the UAE." Throughout ADIHEX, EAD will also be promoting the long-running Sheikh Zayed Falcon Release Programme. It first began in 1995 and has been using cutting-edge technology ever since to ensure that the Saker and Peregrine falcons are at the forefront of conservation efforts. The release is part of an ambitious research programme to understand the rehabilitation potential of falcons used for falconry and to highlight the need to protect migratory birds and their habitats. Since the programme's inception, over 1,300 falcons have been released back into the wild in countries such as Pakistan, Iran and China.

Another contribution to sustainable falconry practices has been the issuing of falcon passports. The Falcon Passport Programme, which is led by the Ministry of Environment and Water, was launched to combat the illegal trade in falcons within the region. The passports document the birds' countries of origin, permit numbers and the dates of last export or import. They let falcons travel abroad without the need for a permit from the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). These passports have to be renewed every three years, when the falcons' registration is renewed, to maintain the birds' legal status. So far, more than 28,000 passports have been issued and renewed since 2002.

In 2010, EAD - on behalf of the UAE government - signed an agreement with the government of Mongolia that would see them build 5,000 artificial nests in the Mongolian steppes in a bid to increase the number of breeding Saker falcons. By building the nests, officials hope to enable birds that otherwise would not have had a chance to breed. It is hoped that by 2015, the nests will act as homes for up to 500 pairs of Saker Falcons, producing at least 1,500 chicks.

Additionally, EAD has been supporting the International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC) since 2009, whose mandate it is to protect bustards against extinction through breeding and careful management of their population. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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