The UAE will host Expo 2020!
  • Arabic
Supported by the UAE National Media Council
We are in the process of developing and improving our website, and we invite you to participate in our brief survey to measure the level of your satisfaction
Satisfaction Survey For UAE Interact Website
رغبة منا بالتعرف على مستوى رضاكم عن موقعنا وبهدف تطويره وتحسينه، فقد قمنا بتصميم استبيان سريع لقياس مدى الرضا عن موقع دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة روعي في تصميم الاستبيان أن يكون قصيرا وسريعا كي لا نطيل عليكم، وعليه نرجو منكم التكرم باستكماله عن طريق الرابط التالي
استبيان رضا المتعاملين عن موقع دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة

The success of the UAE falcon release scheme

posted on 18/05/2015: 1964 views

AKTAU, KAZAKHSTAN: It has been 21 years since the founding President Sheikh Zayed, an avid falconer, set up a conservation effort to protect the endangered birds of prey.

Since then 1,726 falcons have been released back into their natural habitat, first in Pakistan, then in Iran, and back in Pakistan until the Sheikh Zayed Falcon Release Programme moved to Kazakhstan seven years ago.

Sheikh Zayed established the initiative in 1995 as a way of releasing falcons after the end of the hunting season in March, said Dr Margit Muller of Abu Dhabi's Falcon Hospital.

"The programme was launched to enable falcons to be released back into the wild and not to keep them here in the summer time as that time there were not proper ways to keep them cool,” she said. "They would not have survived.

"So his idea was to take them back to a migration route and release them and slowly multiply the population.”

Residents used to be allowed to keep wild falcons but that changed in 2001 when the UAE become a signatory of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, Dr Muller said.

Now only captive-bred falcons are allowed to be kept, she said.

As a result, many UAE residents and sheikhs who are given falcons from countries where there are no such restrictions donate the birds to the falcon hospital.

"People here are committed and believe in their role in the conservation of the environment and wildlife,” said Mohamad Al Baidani, of the International Fund for Houbara Conservation.

"They feel its beauty now to go back to the old traditional ways of having falcons the wild.

"Sheikh Zayed 21 years ago made this tradition alive again by motivating people to give falcons back to the wild.”

Other falcons set aside for release have been taken to the hospital's Al Shamkha base after authorities confiscated those illegally smuggled in.

Mr Al Baidani has assisted with the programme for years.

His most memorable falcon release was in 2009 over the mountainous regions of Kazakhstan, where some of the team had to take to the skies in a helicopter to release some of the birds.

Another memorable moment was a peregrine falcon – which can swoop at up to 389kph, making it the fastest animal on Earth – that was released last year and tracked by satellite.

"For the first time we had reports of the peregrine going to the furthest point in the north of Siberia in the area called Norilsk,” Mr Al Baidani said. "She covered nearly 12,000 square kilometres.”

While releasing falcons into the wild is to repopulate the species, it can be difficult to measure the success of the programme. But the birds are fitted with solar powered satellite trackers that offer some clues.

"We had a saker falcon released from Pakistan, which settled in Kazakhstan and lived there for nearly five years breeding in the east,” Mr Al Baidani said.

Local researchers and scientists also provide evidence on the programme's success, he said.

"One had not seen nests for many years and for the last two or three years has starting finding nests in the area again, and there are more and more birds over the city, which is indicating the success of the programme.” – The National -


31 January 2017 Hamdan bin Zayed visits Al Marzoom reserve, stresses importance of preserving identity, heritage
29 January 2017 Houbara Fund participates in the President's Falconry Cup in Abu Dhabi
22 January 2017 Abu Dhabi Culture Authority welcomes five new countries joining the UNESCO's falconry file
16 January 2017 Inside the world's biggest falcon hospital in Abu Dhabi
21 December 2016 UAE inaugurates world's first Arab falconry and desert physiognomy school

Most Read