International Journal of Falconry • Summer 2013
The IAF Journal welcomes contributions for articles both written and photographic. Though every care will be taken, the publishers will not be held liable for any manuscripts, photographs or other material lost or damaged whilst in their possession. The contents of this magazine are covered by copyright laws and may not be reproduced by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise without the prior written consent of the publishers.The opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the IAF or its officers and IAF accepts no responsibility or liability for them. The publisher does not accept responsibility for any loss or damage caused by error, inaccuracy or omission. It is the responsibility of the contributor or advertiser to gain permission to reproduce photographs. Any material may be refused at the discretion of the publishers.
We will be holding a raffle and auction during the IAF AGM in June, and already have some fantastic lots contributed from around the world, including practical falconry furniture, like beautiful hoods from Spain (Jose Luis Fernandez Teijeiro) and Canada (Ken Hooke), as well as a complete hard cased set of the latest Marshall UHF telemetry, kindly donated by Robert Bagley.
As well as practical falconry lots, we also have artistic donations from some of the falconry world’s leading artists, including Mark Upton, Antony Rhodes, Andrew Ellis and the late Henk Slijper, and books from Patrizia Cimberio and Janusz Sielicki.
We are very fortunate also to have been donated works by renowned artists Pieter Knorr and Jaap Deedler.
Aside from being very valuable fundraisers, raffles/auctions are a great way to share a little of our falconry world, with falconers from other places, and our hope is to be able to offer a diverse range of raffle prizes from around the world to share with and inspire others. If you are able to offer something to help the IAF in its aims, please bring it along to the meeting, or send in advance after notifying Tony James (email@example.com).
Many thanks for your generosity.
by Anthony Crosswell, Editor, UK
It is a wonderful day outside, a hint of the season ahead. The first real spring like morning of warm sunshine in chill air with birds singing, the first yellow aconites flowering under the dank shadowed grassy bank and a few venturing primroses snatching a glimpse of the new year.
I read a wonderful piece yesterday in a financial newsletter in which the author’s 91 year old grandmother had returned to the little country church where generations of the family were christened... married... and buried.
“I felt the ghosts”, she said. “They were all around us. You probably don’t feel them the way I do”, she explained. “But I’m much closer to them. At my age, I’m somewhere between the living and the dead. I’m on the banks of the river, with a toe in the water. Some mornings, I’m sometimes not sure which side of the river I’m on. I regard it as a minor miracle every time I wake up. I look at the clock and see if it is still running. You know, I have many more friends and relatives among the dead than the living. Your father. My father. My mother. All my aunts and uncles and all my cousins... except one.
“I don’t know why people are afraid of ghosts. They’re our friends and relatives. And I’m looking forward to seeing more of them. Besides, ghosts know something we don’t. In the fever of life, we make mistakes. Later on, we realise it.”
As the writer went on to speculate on the drift in the economies of the world it left me stirred in reflection of the wonderful history of my way of life in falconry and the ever present interplay as the past keeps bringing itself into the present and can often be seen to be moulding my future.
Having read for many years of the flights at the blue heron in my home county of Norfolk in the late eighteenth century by the Confederate Hawking Club and then later by the Loo Club in Holland in the mid nineteenth century it is sad to know that those possibilities are gone with no opportunity for such a ‘high flight’ of outstanding quality today. Living here in Norfolk where much of the adventure of the Confederate Hawking Club, the Loo Club and the Old Hawking Club of the nineteenth century gives structure to ones experiences today I am often reminded of Newcombe, Pells, Duleep Singh. I frequently pass their houses and fish on the river Wissey under the skies where they flew herons returning to the Didlington nests and whose descendants today fish with me amongst the clouds of mayflies in summer sunshine.
Many years ago a friend gave me a stuffed Gyrfalcon which had been one of the falcons Newcombe flew and was originally taken from Davis Strait in Greenland. Snow white it was and an excellent example of the taxidermists art but it filled me with sadness somehow to see it in its glass case. I had to let it go but somehow it left its mark in my mind so that when Gyrfalcons eventually arrived in my life the ghosts of the past were already there to guide me. Then when my friend Jim Willmarth went trapping in Greenland and recounted more than 80 Gyrs held in his hands from the traps yet more of it came alive for me - not long after another white Jerkin arrived, this time alive and in my mews.
I had a period of time in the United States. Many times we flew the huge flocks of migratory ducks on the desert ponds at Santa Rosa in New Mexico. With our falcons waiting on until we flushed the teal, mallard or widgeon we would also see Sandhill Cranes passing in small groups at great height on passage, more than twice the pitch of our peregrines. Often I stood and dreamed with envy of the wonderful classic flight that might be had at those high flying Cranes. It remains an unfulfilled dream, a true ‘high flight’ that I have not heard anybody has yet undertaken.
A few years ago during the tame hack period for a new tiercel I had bred, I used to take him out for his daily flight at midday in the warm rising air. He soon got in the habit of being sucked up into the thermals amongst all the other wild soaring hawks. He became fascinated with herons and would seemingly shepherd them around the sky, one day even finding some of our first cranes which were then new arrivals to the local breeding list and little known. He never seemed to get more ambitious unlike one of the tiercels I hacked from the barn and who was last seen in an unfortunate and unseasonal high wind chasing a heron through the driving rain with some determination and quite out of sight, he was never seen again. Maybe he got it down in the wet standing corn and could not get himself in the air again?
Much of our enjoyment in falconry is intimately entwined with the past and its ghosts who influence our lives today. UNESCO has now recognised the intangible cultural heritage of our art in some 14 different countries but it is without doubt that the long history of falconry is an unbroken chain of people contributing and moulding society as we know it today on different continents.
Our AGM is in Holland in June and in this edition we have articles about the Loo Club, Dutch falconry and its history, the traditional “high flight” and many more. My thanks to the authors - I hope you enjoy.
by Adrian Lombard
If the IAF is to have purpose, it must fulfill functions that are desired of it by Falconers. One can go further; unless the IAF is valued and seen as an essential institution that makes possible the practice Falconry and helps Falconers to achieve their aspirations within the context of their Art, the IAF will not survive in the long term. This creates something of a conundrum. Most Falconers consider little beyond the immediate concerns of their hawking until they are prevented from flying their hawk. On the other hand, if the IAF is to be effective in addressing challenges to Falconry, it must be functioning smoothly in a position of strength and be able, where-ever possible, to deal with challenges proactively rather than reactively.
We can have no doubt that the IAF is recognized, by many Falconers, to be an organization of merit. This is supported by the almost exponential growth that we have experienced from the original seven founding members in 1968 to the 80 or so member organizations, from 60 countries that we now represent. At the same time, the services performed and provided by this organization have also increased exponentially and the volunteer basis of the organization is strained to the absolute limit.
We now come to assess the work of the IAF and question how this conforms to the requirements of our membership. I see the functions of the IAF fitting into four categories; Hunting, Conservation, Culture and Animal Welfare.
• Hunting: The support and promotion of Hunting Falconry is unashamedly the principle function of the IAF. To this end, we are positioned as the internationally representative NGO for Falconry. We have formed strategic partnerships with other hunting organizations including FACE and the CIC. We address international conventions and national as well as multi-national legislation where this affects Falconry. We support member organizations with national legislation, providing, comment, advice, written motivations and supportive letters. We are learning to become an activist organization and mobilize our membership and allies in defense or support of member organizations under threat. We promote the sustainable use of natural resources including wild raptors, wild quarry and the natural environment. We belong to the Sustainable Use Network as well as the SULi Group of the IUCN. The IAF represents Falconers at the CITES conferences and, as a signatory to the Transparency register of the European Union Parliament, we can lobby in the European Union on behalf of Falconers. We have undertaken our first significant effort at lobbying during this year. The issue addressed was legislation on “The Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union”. This legislation contains a proposal to grant subsidies based on a plan to modify the use of some 7% of Agricultural land. This proposal is known as the “Greening of Europe”. Personalized email letters, with formal letters in English, German and Italian as attachments, were sent from the IAF President and the Vice-President for Europe to all MEPs. At the same time, IAF delegates from EU countries were encouraged to write to their national MEPs. The IAF delegates responded well to this. Many wrote and the support letters were converted to a further range of languages including French, Dutch, Slovak and Bulgarian amongst others. This was a good subject for our first lobbying effort and introduction to the MEPs as it demonstrates that we have a real interest in the environment and conservation, as well as hunting. A serious challenge is looming within the European Union. This is legislation to deal with Invasive Alien Species and we are making preparations for this.
Regrettably, we have also faced two situations where Falconers, in Denmark and Estonia, where not supported by the national hunting organizations and where Falconry is challenged by national legislation. This is bad for Falconry and seems almost inexplicable. There is a clear message that we must win the support of other hunters, and confront their concerns, before we have to challenge proposed legislation.
• Conservation: The IAF, as we know, is more than a hunting organization. Conservation forms part of the name of our organization and the evidence is clear that we are entitled to this claim. The IAF is a significant international conservation-orientated NGO. We are members of the IUCN and are represented at its meetings. We are signatories to the Raptors MoU of the Convention on Migratory Species and are active within this organization. We promote and support conservation activities by our membership and engender a conservation culture in Falconers worldwide. In this regard, it is important to recognize that there is far more to conservation than esoteric studies by academics on the biology of wildlife. Certainly these studies are important as they may provide the scientific data that informs the conservation effort. Conservation also involves planning, legislation, implementation, enforcement and education. The IAF and Falconers around the world are active at all these levels. Conservation involving Sustainable Utilization is essential, not merely for the continued practice of Falconry, but also to the preservation of the world’s biodiversity.
• Culture: Falconers are very aware of the significance of the recognition of their Art as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The IAF has been recognized as an Advisory NGO by UNESCO and is continuing to support efforts by member organizations to join this submission. The essential component of Intangible Heritage involves the transmission of skills from one generation to the next. This concept is strongly supported by the IAF and its membership. There is also a tangible Falconry Culture which includes the rich and ongoing heritage of books, equipment and various form of artwork that is associated with Falconry. These items constitute national or regional treasures that can be shared and celebrated by all Falconers. An example of the promotion of Falconry Culture is the recent exhibition of Falconry Art in the Rijksmuseum. Along with our Supporting Members, the Archives of Falconry and the Valkensward Museum, we endeavor to promote an appreciation and awareness of this aspect and must seek additional alliances to develop this. A further contribution to the development of the Culture of Falconry will be the establishment of an International Falconry Day which shall be promoted by the IAF.
• Animal Welfare: The IAF must be recognized as the authority on the welfare of, specifically, Falconry Raptors. No other individual or body has the requisite skills or knowledge to claim such expertise. We are also qualified to comment on welfare aspects of captive raptors in general and of other animals involved in the practice of falconry such as pointing dogs and ferrets, as well as the animals which we hunt. We are active in providing comment and scrutinizing legislation within this area. There is a definite need to establish our authority more clearly. We do recognize that there are no uniform norms with regard to animal welfare. Accepted norms of Animal Welfare vary between different cultures and geographic regions. Any attempt to enforce the norms of one culture upon another is hugely divisive. Establishment of a standard of good practice can only be done with great sensitivity and through education and consultation. It will not be the role of the IAF to attempt to establish rigid uniform standards of Animal Welfare. We can, however, establish accepted norms within regions and cultures and defend those norms. We also must note the distinct difference between Animal Welfare, which is to the material benefit of the animals with which we work and which is not in conflict with good conservation practice, and Animal Rights.
Critics of the IAF have described the organization as “an old-boys club” promoting the attitudes and opinions of a favored few. Examination of the early history of the IAF shows remarkable achievements by a very small group of men. The situation within the organization has changed dramatically over the past decade and continues to evolve. The leadership of the IAF now incorporates six Board Members, 10 voting members of the Advisory Committee and a further 14 non-voting members. All are volunteers and most are professionals or academics. They contribute their time to the IAF in whatever free time their “day-jobs” permit and what they individually achieve for our organization is truly remarkable. In addition to the leadership, we call on additional assistance from supporters as and when help is needed. There is an increasing effort to include national delegates in our activities and decisions.
Our detractors also question the work done and criticize the failure of the IAF to represent falconry and to address current issues. We are now represented at every significant international conference and do not rely on the beneficence of other organizations. We are able to respond to challenging legislation and policy issues with suitable experts. In the same way, we are able to contribute to the international conservation effort by using the appropriate experts from within our ranks. We are able to publicize the positive role of Falconry within society and in respect to conservation and influence opinion leaders and politicians. This level of service comes with a cost.
We are making a considerable effort to reach falconers and inform them of our efforts on their behalf. Without their support, both financial and practical, the current work-load of the IAF is not sustainable. The IAF website, www.iaf.org , has been completely and dramatically re-designed. The International Journal of Falconry has become a prestigious and valued publication – probably the best Falconry publication available, an eNewsletter is produced at irregular intervals to inform our members and friends and this is to be improved, an additional printed IAF Newsletter is contemplated, in the arena of social networking the IAF has a Facebook site. Ultimately we must get a message to Falconers – Value us and support us or loose us to your peril.
Finally, I must emphasize again the incredible support and work of all our officers, advisors and delegates. Without the enormous contribution of these individuals, the IAF achieves nothing. I must also thank all who contribute financially, in particular the Emirates Falconry Club, for their ongoing support of the IAF which makes much of our effort possible. Without adequate funding, we cannot work for you effectively.
Seventh session; UNESCO Headquarters, Paris; 3 to 7 December 2012
Item 11 of the Provisional Agenda:
Report of the Subsidiary Body on its work in 2012 and
evaluation of nominations for inscription in 2012 on the
Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
DRAFT DECISION 7.COM 11.33
1. Takes note that the United Arab Emirates, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, the Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain and the Syrian Arab Republic have nominated Falconry, a living human heritage for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:
Falconry is the traditional activity of keeping and training falcons and other raptors to take quarry in its natural state. Originally a way of obtaining food, falconry is today identified with camaraderie and sharing rather than subsistence. Falconry is mainly found along migration flyways and corridors, and is practised by amateurs and professionals of all ages and genders. Falconers develop a strong relationship and spiritual bond with their birds, and commitment is required to breed, train, handle and fly the falcons. Falconry is transmitted as a cultural tradition by a variety of means, including mentoring, learning within families and formalized training in clubs. In hot countries, falconers take their children to the desert and train them to handle the bird and establish a mutual relationship of trust. While falconers come from different backgrounds, they share common values, traditions and practices such as methods of training and caring for birds, equipment used and the bonding process. Falconry forms the basis of a wider cultural heritage, including traditional dress, food, songs, music, poetry and dance, sustained by the communities and clubs that practise it.
2. Decides that, from the information provided in file 00732, the nomination satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List, as follows:
R.1: Falconry, recognized by its community members as part of their cultural heritage, is a social tradition respecting nature and the environment, passed on from generation to generation, and providing them a sense of belonging, continuity and identity;
R.2: Its inscription on an extended basis on the Representative List could contribute to fostering cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue worldwide, thus enhancing visibility and awareness of intangible cultural heritage and its importance;
R.3: Efforts already underway in many countries to safeguard falconry and ensure its transmission, focusing especially on apprenticeship, handicrafts and conservation of falcon species, are supplemented by planned measures to strengthen its viability and raise awareness both at national and international levels;
R.4: Communities, associations and individuals concerned have participated in the elaboration of this nomination at all stages and have provided plentiful evidence of their free, prior and informed consent;
R.5: Falconry is included on inventories of intangible cultural heritage in each of the submitting States;
3. Inscribes Falconry, a living human heritage on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Transcript of the speech made by Mohammed Al Bowardi
Kearney, 18-23, November, 2012
Good morning ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to be amongst you on this very significant day to address IAF AGM, as we are sharing a strategic partnership with IAF. We do share core objectives which include:
• Preservation and encouragement of falconry within the context of sustainable use of wildlife.
• Encouragement of conservation, the ecological and veterinary research on birds of prey and their local breading for falconry.
• Development of laws and conventions to permit the pursuit and perpetuation of falconry.
• Promotion of a positive image of falconry.
Throughout this partnership which extended over a decade the Emirates Falconers’ Club, IAF and other partners have successfully achieved strategic objectives which include:
• Development of a proposal to CITES on “Falconry Passport System” which was adopted to simplify International movement of trained raptors.
• The organization of the hugely successful Festival of Falconry which was held in Al Ain from 10-18 December,2011. Thousands of people gathered from 78 countries to make it the largest gathering of falconers the world has ever seen.
• So many people here and throughout the world merit recognition and deserve our deep respect for the successful International efforts that contribute to the protection of human intangible heritage and provide the basis for the co-operation between different people and civilization, as part of our strategy to maintain the inherent cultural heritage of Abu Dhabi.
• Organization of Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition annual event that has rapidly gained international recognition and wide spread popularity in the last nine editions, attracting over 97812 visitors from around the world in 2012 alone.
We recognize that there are challenges to achieve our global objectives. Developing action plans for all the countries concerned is not easy to do. However, it is now entirely up to us as how we take these challenges forward. We need to provide the momentum to progress with this process. I am confident that with the collective efforts of the scientists and NGO’s and all representatives present here, we can overcome these challenges.
I would like to express my deep thanks and appreciation for Mr. Frank Bond and his great efforts during his presidency to achieve IAF objectives and the support given to our programs and activities. On behalf of the Emirates Falconers’ Club, we are very happy to continue to be involved in initiatives for the recognition of falconry as an intangible heritage and other falconry conservation programs. I would like to extend my heartfelt wishes for a successful meeting.
A synopsis based on a text from J.M.P. van Oorschot
To understand the economic significance of falconry for the village of Valkenswaard, it might be useful to outline its situation in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. The region’s poor soil provided little income for its inhabitants, who were plagued by the pressure of taxation, continuous warfare and hardship. Unemployment and poverty forced people to perform seasonal work elsewhere. For instance, many hundreds of people from Brabant found work in the Haarlem bleacheries, as migrating ‘teuten’ or travelling pedlars, and last but not least, with falconers as helpers or cadge carriers.
Many a farmer’s son could earn more by looking for a lost falcon than working the land at home. The wealth of some of the falconers, reflected in their richly appointed houses, will have made a deep impression. During these travels they learned the tricks of the trade. As a catcher in Scandinavia, on the Brabant moors, or as a falconer’s helper at the royal courts, they developed the coveted skills that could earn them a royal livery and later possibly a pension.
In 1664 Prince-Elect Christian of Denmark set up a royal mews in Frederiksborg Castle in Copenhagen. As the Danes had little experience with falconry, its management was entrusted to a foreign Master Falconer who answered to a Danish baron with the title of chief hunter. Martin Verbraken, Hendrik Verhagen and Jacobus Verhoeven, all falconers from Valkenswaard, held the office of Master Falconer in the eighteenth century. The Master Falconer oversaw a foreman and five trainee falconers, most of who also came from Valkenswaard. The foreman was a travelling falconer in charge of the annual expedition to Iceland. On Saint John’s Day (24 June) native catchers took the trapped falcons to the Falcon House to offer them for sale to the travelling falconer. He selected the best birds, for which fixed prices were paid: 15 rixdollars for a white gyrfalcon; 10 rixdollars for an intermediate gyrfalcon; whereas a grey one was good for 5 rixdollars.
The Master Falconer classified the falcons in different categories before drafting a list for their distribution to the foreign courts. From the thirteenth century it had been customary for the Danish kings to present falcons as gifts to ‘their nephews’, their fellow rulers.
According to an ancient custom, at the end of September the Chief Hunter sent part of a wing feather from each falcon with an accompanying letter to each of the royal courts. Upon the falcon’s arrival this made it possible to verify whether it was identical to the promised bird. The transport of the falcons subsequently took place in October. The extensive correspondence of Master Falconer Verhoeven testifies to the fact that, together with other falconry-related Valkenswaarders, he had been responsible for distributing 4600 Danish ‘presents’ between 1731 and 1793.
The Royal Courts
Nowhere in Europe was falconry practised with such glamour as at the French court of Louis XIII, whose passion for falconry far surpassed his interest in matters of state. Flying two falcons at a heron was particularly popular. Among the falconers from De Kempen (the Campine) employed at the court of Versailles around 1700 were Nicolaas van Gool, in charge of flying at magpies, Aert Steymans, who supervised flying at crows and Master Falconer Hendrik Coppen, who organised flying at kite. Three generations of Coppens, whose name in French was corrupted into ‘Coupon’, form a bridge to the final years of French falconry in the second half of the eighteenth century, when the number of falconers from Valkenswaard surpassed that of those from Arendonk.
The best-known Master Falconer is François Daems, whose great skills ensured that he was sent regularly to Copenhagen to collect the falcon gift. Eleven more falconers from Valkenswaard followed in his footsteps, including his son Adriaan, his brothers Jacobus and Hendrik and his brother-in-law Bartel Stokmans.
The rivalry between Vienna and Versailles created lucrative employment opportunities at the court of the Habsburg emperors in Austria. Around 1720, a colony of falconers from Valkenswaard was established in Laxenburg, the centre of imperial falconry. At the time of Empress Maria Theresa (1740-1780), the imperial falconry was divided in four departments; flying at heron, kite, crow and on the river. Each department consisted of eight people: one master falconer, four assistants and three pupils. The most successful Valkenswaarder in Austria was probably Bartel Hertroys, ‘falconer to the Queen of Bohemia and Hungary’, who travelled frequently to Copenhagen to test gift falcons or to Brabant to purchase peregrines.
Valkenswaarders flew birds in Parma in Italy, in Potsdam in Prussia, and in Portugal and Poland. In Bavaria Hendrik Vermeulen, and his sons Johan and Bartel, organised the heron hawking, the so-called ‘Niederländische Falknerey’, and took care of delivering birds through their native Valkenswaard. In Hessen-Kassel, Master Falconers Adam Daems, Adriaan Royers, Willem Verbrugge and Hendrik Verhoeven took falconry to great heights between 1693 and 1793.
The splendour-loving Archbishop-Elector Clemens August (1700-1761), living along the banks of the Rhine River, had a deep-rooted passion for falconry. Magnificent works of art in his celebrated Augustusburg Castle in Brühl, also known as ‘Falkenlust’, still bear witness to this. Kite master Hendrik Danckers and his brother Peter, heron master, elevated falconry into a true art. During the master falconers’ nine-month stay, Clemens August paid each of them 5000 guilders gross, as well as providing funds for liveries and hunting birds. To meet the increasing demand for hunting birds, the Danckers brothers, together with their brother-in-law Bartel Goossens, sent falcon trappers to sites in Sweden and Northern Russia. They annually ‘presented’ 12 gyrfalcons to the Spanish king, which the monarch reciprocated with a gift worth double their value.
Falconry in the German states reaches its climax in Ansbach under Margrave Carl Wilhelm Friedrich von Brandenburg-Ansbach (1712-1757). Between 1730 and 1747 this sovereign spent ƒ 452,855 on falconry. More than ƒ 118,000 was for payments and expenses for his fifty falconers and ninety gamekeepers. The equipment (uniforms, game-bags, lures and other requisites) costs more than ƒ 108,000, while the purchase and maintenance of falcons and other birds of prey cost ƒ 64,762 and ƒ 22,884, respectively. In total 34,429 pieces of game were killed, including 4,174 herons. During this period, a good number of Valkenswaarders were employed at Ansbach. Dutch words like Bäck (beak), Borst (breast), Schlägtfalcke (peregrine) and Start (tail) came into common usage in local hunting terminology. The Margrave even paid a visit to Valkenswaard in 1741.
Decline and End
Falconry had never before been practised with such brilliance as in the mid-eighteenth century. However, this high point was followed by a swift decline. The development of firearms, but especially the cultivation of the moors and previously open fields with the aid of artificial fertiliser delivered the coup de grâce to falconry on the continent. Thereafter, Valkenswaarders still managed to find work in England. For instance, Frans van den Heuvel (‘the last falconer of Louis XVI’), Jan Daems, Jan Bots and Jan Peels were employed for some time by ‘The Confederate Hawks of Great Britain’.
When the continuity of the club in England came under fire in 1838, a few enthusiastic members found new hunting grounds in the Netherlands, near Het Loo Palace on the Veluwe. Under the inspired leadership of Prince Alexander, the son of King William II, falconry flourished once more. With two teams under the supervision of Jan Bots and Adriaan Mollen, members of “The Royal Loo Hawking-Club” flew their falcons at herons. However, this fairy-tale came to an end in 1855.
The tradition of falconry in the Netherlands is presently kept alive by three Dutch falconry clubs, the oldest of which is Het Nederlandse Valkeniersverbond ‘Adriaan Mollen’, which was founded 1936.
Apart from practising falconry, in particular with the goshawk, the falconry clubs devote a great deal of attention to the study and protection of the birds.
Dr. Javier Ceballos, IAF AC Member
firstname.lastname@example.org, Madrid, Spain
On February 14th, our friend, tireless contributor and Executive Secretary of the IAF Gary Timbrell congratulated members of the Advisory Committee with the following words:
“A Happy St. Triphon’s Day to all of you. Triphon, the Eastern Patron of Falconry and of wine, my saint of preference”
The reaction was immediate, and throughout the day were sent many different messages congratulating the day. Anthony Crosswell presented a long list of saints associated with falconry, collected from the article written by Christian de Coune in the IAF magazine (2009). However it is clear that not all falconers are Christians. For this reason any congratulations for being the day of the patron becomes meaningless for those who do not believe in saints.
To have a day on which all falconers can celebrate our sense of belonging to the falconry community is an idea that has long been in my head. When a falconer, at sunset, returns home after his hawks’ flight on the other side of the world another falconer wakes from his dreams. For 4000 years of falcons flying in the sky, without borders or human differences, keeping alive the heritage of falconry.
When I received the e-mail from Gary Timbrell I recalled the idea of a World Falconry Day and shared it with the rest of the Advisory Committee. Its reception was unanimous. We agreed that a specific day in which to celebrate recognition of falconry year after year is a feasible project and encouraging.
In June the next AGM will discuss the proposal with the assembly for approval.
In general terms it is as follows:
Each year, on a specific date, participants coordinated by the IAF, from largest number of countries, working with a common theme related to falconry.
It is interesting to concentrate actions on a common platform. Synergies are created. We multiply the visibility. IAF is also UNESCO’s advisory NGO. As Frank Bond said this “will provide proof to UNESCO that the IAF is fulfilling its role of promoting and protecting falconry as an intangible cultural heritage”.
- Identify and promote the Intangible Cultural Heritage that constitutes falconry
- Increase visibility of falconry to society
- Nourishing a sense of belonging to the falconry community
- Promoting cooperation in different sectors for falconry (academic, cultural, social, political).
The World Falconry Day will be organized by a committee set up especially for this purpose within the IAF. Coordinator is expected to be Dr. Javier Ceballos, with the help of PPRR Veronique Blontrock (Europe), Yukio Asaoka (Asia), Dan Cecchini (America) and our Executive Secretary Gary Timbrell.
Participants: Associations and falconers worldwide (whether or not forming part of the IAF), public and private entities (whether or not economic interests), and generally anyone interested in developing activities within the framework coordinated by the IAF.
The first edition will take place on November 16th, 2013, the third anniversary of the recognition of falconry by UNESCO. 2013 is the tenth anniversary of the UNESCO ICH Convention.
On November 16th it is also an appropriate date by other factors such as the absence of religious connotations/political, be within the hunting season, coincide with the anniversary of the inscription by UNESCO.
The World Falconry Day is held simultaneously in all countries that want to join the initiative.
Each year will have a different venue for the international celebration. This location will be the flagship from slogan adopted annually.
The venue for 2013 will be determined at the AGM.
In the words of Adrian Lombard:
Broadly the plan would be to encourage all Falconers to mark this day, for our member organizations to plan some action or event and to prepare press releases drawing attention to the positive influences of Falconry.
The organizing committee, annually will present a theme around which will revolve the global day of falconry. Each national delegate will inform to the organizing committee about the activities proposed in their country
Stamp of quality
Activities approved by the organizing committee each year will have the “stamp of quality and Logo” given for the occasion.
In this way may be recognized easily the activities within the framework of the IAF of the activities organized independently.
The activities selected are displayed on the website of the IAF. Moreover, on the website of UNESCO are joining the initiatives of celebration to mark the 10th Anniversary of the Convention:
Since Spain have already integrated some initiatives related to falconry.
Examples of activities:
Falconry Associations: Open Day for the general public, Organization of hunting parties with selected falconers, Workshops/Courses falconry, internal discussions about the slogan.
Academic: Lectures, Seminars, Conferences.
Cultural: Identification and explicit exhibition in museums of artworks related to falconry, documentaries, guided tours in museums to show masterpieces related to falconry, Proposed routes & visits where is possible see falconry’s masterpieces (example: falconry Romanesque capitals in the province of Segovia, Spain XIII- XIV centuries, or paintings of falconry in the Palace of Siena, Italy), falconry exhibitions, expositions.
Schools: Presentations at schools, school competitions writing, drawing.
Social: Visits to airports where falconry is used as a resource to ensure flight safety
Coordination to facilitate participation in hunting parties with falconry birds
Presence in the Media: Debates on tv, radio interviews/press/tv, articles, reports
Expressly avoided: Displays to the public with bagged game
The country to submit its candidature to host the World Day of falconry will send a dossier. It must be supported by the falconry community, and different institutions. Show international activities to develop around the slogan.
All those who want participate in the global day of falconry can find information on the website of the IAF. They may also consult the respective national delegate. Once approved the project in June AGM, may submit proposals for their
Johan Kolman was born in the Netherlands in 1954. He studied at the art academy in Holland, where he was tutored by H.J.Slijper, a well known Dutch artist and a falconer as well.
Johan is a professional artist painter since he finished art school in 1978. He works mainly on commission, one of these commissions was working for six months in the Middle East painting the favored falcons for high placed Arabs. Over the years he specialized in making portraits of people and birds of prey.
He is very much appreciated for combining these specialties in making portraits of falconers with their birds.
Johan is also well known in the Netherlands for illustrating the annual yearbook of the Dutch falconry club Adriaan Mollen and made the front cover for that yearbook for many years.
He works mainly in oil and gouache (water colour).
As a young boy he was attracted by birds in general, keeping a group of jackdaws flying around his family home. Falconry came later when his tutor Henk Slijper caught one of his jackdaws with his lanner falcon. Since then falconry played a very important role in his life.
From the seventies onwards he flew mainly Goshawks and many (rehab) sparrow-hawks. He is a passionate falconer attracted to the restless nature of the Accipiters, but also charmed by the friendly nature of a peregrine, when he had them in his studio as a model for a portrait...
As a fan of the cocker spaniel for the goshawk, he is also passioned in that field. His dog became a field trial champion in the Netherlands.
He spends a good part of the year in the west of Ireland, his second homeland.
By Dick ten Bosch
Dedicated to the late Piet Tuijn, former director of Museum Doorwerth, author of books and articles regarding the history of falconry in the Netherlands and its literature.
Edward Clough Newcome (1810-1871) inherited Feltwell Hall on the death of his aunt. His knowledge of wild life, especially in East Anglia, is said to have been remarkable, though, unfortunately, nothing has been left by him in writing. One of the largest collections of birds ever made in Norfolk was the one at Feltwell Hall, which he himself had shot and stuffed, The place was crammed with birds and a visit to Feltwell Hall in those days was like a visit to a museum.
Clough Newcome had his first experience with falconry when he was invited to attend the high flight in Didlington. It was love at first sight and ever since he dedicated himself to falcons and falconry with heart and soul. Clough Newcome is said to have had greater knowledge of falconry or hawking than any man in the British Isles. He was especially fond of flying merlins at larks and used a terrier to nose out and flush the larks. In 1838 he possessed a five year old wild caught peregrine tiercel Will-o’-the-Wisp who flew excellently on rooks, which for a tiercel is quite an achievement as we all know.
An oil painting of Will-o’-the-Wisp by the painter Dubourcq is part of the collection of the Museum of Natural History in Paris. On the painting is mentioned in french “Will -o’-the-Wisp, property of Mr. E.C. Newcome”. This work belonged to Prince Willem of the Netherlands and was in the Loo Palace, before Mr. Pichot was able to acquire it in 1908
The painter Pierre-Louis Dubourcq (1815-1873) was one of several artists who worked at The Loo during the years of The Royal Loo Hawking Club (RLHC). During this period he regularly painted portraits of famous falcons. Although his name is not mentioned in that most illustrious falconry book Traite de Fauconnerie, he should undoubtedly be regarded as co-auteur of the most famous illustration in that book of the white Greenland Gyrfalcon. Other falcons painted by Dubourcq were Zoe, Rocket and Marmion.
When upon the death of Lord Berners in 1838 the High Ash Club was dissolved, Clough Newcome, the soul of the club, could not reconcile himself with the fact that there would no longer be a high flight. We know from the membership book that shortly afterwards he joined the RLHC in 1840, the second year of its existence. As one of very few members who personally practiced falconry and took part in horseraces, Clough Newcome would become the driving force of the Club practically until its demise in 1855.
In what probably was the last time when the regulations of the RLHC were issued, in 1850 or 1851, was Clough Newcome mentioned as third member of the management committee, or steward. The other committee members were Hendrik, Prince of the Netherlands, Leeds (The Duke of L.), E.L. Van Tuyll van Serooskerken v. Vleuten and Jhr. H.Mollerus.
In the same regulations is mentioned in article 11, that during the hunting season the Duke of Leeds and Mr. E.C. Newcome, together with a Dutch member of the management committee will supervise the falconers, servants, falcons etc and will also ensure that equipment is in a good state, as well as that the clothing of the falconers and servants, during their stay at the Loo, is decent and tidy. Please note that the annual season for falconry hunting, began on the 15th of May and ended on July 15th. This period, early in the year, coincides with the breeding season of the heron. The falcons were flown at herons during their foraging flights from and to the nesting site.
In a program of the RLHC races of 1852, one of the last years of the club, is E.C. Newcome, Esq mentioned as one of seven stewards. The horse racing took place on four consecutive days; Tuesday 15th June up to and included Friday 18th June, 1852.
In the collection of the Loo Palace is still to be found a large gold plated silver cup, with a hooded falcon on top, which was presented by Queen Sofia to E.C. Newcome in 1849 as winner of the races with his horse Albion.
Not only was Newcome a natural with falcons and horses, also hunting dogs had his full attention. Prince Alexander, who was a great lover of hunting dogs, wrote on 19th June 1840 in a letter to his father, King Willem II, “We also had a duck hunt which, very nice to see, took place between a duck and an very good chien de Terre Neuve of Mr. Newcome.” This chien de Terre Neuve is probably our present day Labrador Retriever.
In 1843 he had two remarkable Heron-hawks, de Ruyter and Sultan, which were brought from Holland by the Dutch falconer Jan Pells. De Ruyter and Sultan took 54 herons in 1843 and 57 the following season. De Ruyter was lost on Lakenheath warren when flown at a rook. Sultan, set up in full hawking gear with hood, bells and jesses.was preserved in a glass case at Hockwold Hall in honor of its great achievements.
Following the disappearance of the RLHC, Clough Newcome continued to practice falconry in England in its most sublime form, the flight on herons. Under his inspiring direction the Old Hawking Club was found in 1863. He was known as the last person in England to have been engaged in heron-hawking.
Pierre Amedee Pichot’s collection on Falconry
P.A. Pichot (1841-1921) journalist, bibliophile and reputable collector of books, prints, paintings and other artifacts on falconry. Pichots collection includes important documents and art from the end of the Renaissance to the beginning of the twentieth century. He donated his collection to the municipal library of Arles, which later became known as Mediatheque, a depository of global importance of falconry art and documentary heritage.
France has a special significance for the cultural heritage of falconry. In 1999 it submitted the Pierre Amedee Pichot collection at the Museum of Arles for inclusion in the UNESCO World Register. Undoubtedly it is among the most significant falconry-related archives in the world.
Pichot travelled wherever he could find something about falconry, helped by a global network of correspondents. Pichot’s contacts included falconers of the Imperial Court of Russia and those of the Persian Shah to name some. His collection included books from different parts of the world in Chinese, Dutch, Danish, English, German, Italian, Polish and Russian. Quality editions from the turn of the twentieth century are especially well represented. Pichot published in 1865 a work of falconry “La fauconnerie en Angleterre et en France” and in 1875 and 1903 “Les oiseaux de sport”, Although his collection of books and drawings is preserved in the Mediatheque in Arles, his notes and paintings are to be found in the Museum of Natural History in Paris. He also assembled a great collection of photographs on hunting from different countries
According to a note jotted down on documents in the Mediatheque in Arles, it was P.A. Pichot who wrote the following article in magazine The Field with some flattering comments about himself! Obviously he was delighted with the acquisition of the paintings:
The Field, 26th December 1908.
“Some interesting falconry relics have recently turned up in Holland in the shape of half a dozen portraits in oil, on thick cardboard, of hawks once belonging to the celebrated Loo Hawking Club. The pictures are lifesize and in the style of the illustrations to Schlegel’s splendid folio Traite de Fauconnerie by artists such as Sonderland, who contributed to that masterly work, and four by Dubourcq which were perhaps intended for it. They have never been published, however so far as we have been able to discover, although we know of a single copy of a lithograph colored by hand, which is a reproduction of one of these portraits and represent Zoe, a jerfalcon, painted by Dubourcq on July 4, 1842, during which season at the Loo she is stated (according to a note on the original oil painting) to have taken eighteen herons. This print was part of the lot of the original water-colours painted by Wolf for Schlegel’s volume (Traite de Fauconnerie) and purchased after the death of the latter at the sale of his library at Leiden in 1884 by Pierre Amedee Pichot, the well known French falconer and collector.
It is also the same sportsman and art collector that the six portraits referred to have just been knocked down for a high price, making a valuable addition to the extensive and unrivalled collection of engravings and documents on falconry which that persevering amateur has been so long collecting.
Falconers may be interested to know that amongst those portraits is one of the famous hawk Sultan, painted by Sonderland at the Loo in 1843. Sultan and De Ruyter, the property of Edward Clough Newcome of Feltwell Hall, Norfolk, have been described in several treatises on falconry as two of the very best trained hawks ever flown. The late Rev. Gage Earl Freeman, who, under the name of “Peregrine” was a well known contributor to these columns, published in his own book on falconry an account of a flight at herons at the Loo with this famous cast contributed by E.C. Newcome himself. The Hon. G. Lascelles, in the volume on falconry in the Badminton Library(p.339) states that De Ruyter was ultimately lost while rook hawking, but Sultan, preserved after death, adorns the collection of stuffed birds which Mr. Newcome formed at Hockwold, set up as his hands alone could do it. Another of the hawks figured in the set under notice is also mentioned in Newcome’s narrative (p.148), a hawk called Rocket, which from Dubourcq’s painting is seen to be a jer tiercel. Possibly it may be the one which Newcome did not care much about as being apt to crab another hawk if flown with it. In Falconry in the British Isles Capt. Salvin alludes to one more of Mr. Newcome’s hawks, a tiercel called Will o’ the Wisp, a first rate rook hawk in 1838 which died in its fifth year. That also is in the set under consideration.
The other two portraits are Prins van Oranje, painted by Sonderland at the Loo in 1843, and Marmion, a red falcon painted by Dubourcq sitting on the perch.
All these hawks are painted with their hoods on and the portraits which belonged to Prince William of the Netherlands, and which were for a time in the Royal Palace of the Loo, were disposed of on the death of the Prince in Madeira. They are in an excellent state of preservation”.
Amsterdam Auction of 1908
The above mentioned set of drawings and paintings was auctioned off by the auction house of Frederik Muller in Amsterdam on 12 December 1908. Lot number 1183 A contained drawings of birds while 1183 B : hunting falcons of Prince Willem of the Netherlands from the Loo Palace: Six oil paintings on carton by Dubourcq and J.B. Sonderland (60 - 47 cm) of the falcons Prins van Oranje, Zoe, Marmion, Rocket, Will-o’-the-Wisp and Sultan. The buyer was Pierre Amedee Pichot. and consequently this important art, closely connected with the glorious period of the RLHC in the Netherlands, can now be found in the Central Library of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.
We can safely assume that following the auction in Amsterdam, Pichot immediately had a reproduction made of the Sultan painting by Sonderland. This reproduction was beautifully drawn and executed by the French printing firm of Manzi, Joyant and Cie, the sucessors of Goupil and Cie the fine art publishers. Editeurs-Imprimeurs. A special printing process called Goupilgravure or photogravure was used for the production of high quality colour reproductions.
Goupil and Cie, later called Manzi, Joyant and Cie, was the leading art dealership in 19th century France. Step by step it established a worldwide trade with fine art reproductions of paintings and sculptures with a network of branches in London, Brussels, The Hague, Berlin, Vienna, New York and Australia. The painter Vincent Van Gogh and his brother Theo were for several years partners in the firm.
On the lithogravure is inscribed: “Sultan three years old the property of Mr. E.C. Newcome. Loo 1843. To the members of Old Hawking Club this plate is inscribed by their devoted colleague. Pierre Amedee Pichot”
We know from the brochure Une gravure de Sport that 100 copies of Sultan were printed by Manzi, Joyant and Cie. Half of the edition was taken to England by Pichot to be presented to the members of the Old Hawking Club. As we have seen earlier, this club was founded in England by Newcome in 1863 after the dissolution of the RLHC in the Netherlands. We know from the stock administration of Manzi, Joyant and Cie that 50 copies (tirages) remained in stock at the start of 1909 which were to be sold for 100 francs each. Of this number 12 copies were sold in 1909, one in 1910, two in 1911, two in 1913-14 and one in 1915-16. In 1918, 34 copies were still in stock. Then in 1920, 29 ‘tirages’ remained. Sales must have been slack because occasional copies from Goupil stock were still sold around 1990, according to information received from Musee Goupil in Bordeaux. I personally bought the last three copies in stock with a fine art dealer in Lyon around 1990. One of these I presented to The Loo Palace Museum in the Netherlands. The Musee Goupil has two ‘tirages’ of Sultan in its collection.
Article in ‘The Field’. 1909
A famous falcon
“To those who are conversant with the English literature relating to hawking, the names of two famous heron hawks, De Ruyter and Sultan, will be well known. They belonged to Mr. Edward Clough Newcome, of Hockwold, Norfolk and distinguished themselves not only in that county, but also in Holland, where they were flown at the meetings of the Loo Hawking Club, of which Mr, Newcome was an English member. This club derived its name from the place of meeting, Het Loo, the summer palace of the King of Holland, who was an ardent devotee of the sport and president of the club. The members met chiefly for heron hawking, as this quarry abounded there, and it was always easy to get a flight at one, though it required a first rate hawk- or hawks, for two were generally flown- to kill one. Heron hawking was regarded as the highest branch of the sport, not only on account of the difficulty of getting hawks good enough to capture so large and strong a quarry, but also on account of the height at which they were flown, the distance they travelled and the hard riding which was afforded to the mounted falconers.
The Norfolk Chronicle of June 12, 1823 describing a famous flight at a heron near Didlington Hall, then the seat of Colonel Wilson (afterwards Lord Berners) remarked that the flight was so rapid that of the numerous party who started with the hawk no more than four or five persons were up at the kill. The flight is stated to have lasted twenty six minutes, and the distance from point to point exceeded six miles. It was therefore, no child’s play but on the contrary often provided what would nowadays be called “a good hunting run”.
When the members of the Loo Hawing Club used to meet annually in Holland for this sport, their hawks used to capture from 150 to 200 herons in a season. To have first rate hawks, and some of them, to judge by their recorded performances have probably never been excelled, even in the palmy days of falconry when James I spent such large sums of money to secure falcons for this very flight. The two hawks above named, De Ruyter and Sultan, were brought from Holland by the Dutch falconer John Pells, and in one year took 54 herons between them, and in the following season no fewer than fifty seven. De Ruyter was eventually lost while rook hawking at Feltwell Hall, but Sultan preserved after death by the hands of the owner, a skilful taxidermist is still in the possession of his son, Mr. F. A. Newcome.
By a piece of good fortune the portrait of Sultan has been preserved, being one of a series of six life sized portraits in oils, on thick cardboard, of celebrated hawks that once belonged to the Loo Club. They were painted by Sonderland and Dubourcq, Sultan’s portrait being the work of the former artist (Sonderland) in 1845. The pictures belonged to Prince Willem of the Netherlands and were for a long time hanging in the royal palace of the Loo, but were eventually disposed of on the death of the Prince in Madeira. Luckily last year they fell into the hands of an enthusiastic French falconer, M.Pierre A. Pichot, who knew how to appreciate them and it is to his enterprise and to the skill of MM. Manzi, Joyant and Co of Paris, successors to the well known firm of Goupil and Co that Sultan’s portrait has just been reproduced in color life size. It is a notable picture, hitherto unpublished and one which we have no doubt every falconer will be glad to possess, to say nothing of other collectors who are interested in sporting subjects. M. Pichot has paid a pretty compliment by dedicating the picture to the members of The Old Hawking Club who still carry on the time honored sport in England and continue to uphold the traditions of their predecessors at the Loo.
A hundred copies have been executed of which a portion only are for sale and these may be obtained of MM. Manzi, Joyant et Cie, 24 Boulevard des Capucines, Paris as well as in London at 25 Bedford Street, Strand”.
BLEUMINK (H) and NEEFJES (J) 2010 Kroondomein Het Loo, Utrecht
KLUH (P) 1999. Traite de Fauconnerie: Greifvogel und Falknerei im 19 Jahrhundert / Hermann Schlegel; Abraham H. Verster van Wulverhorst, Darmstadt
PARPOIL (C) 1994. Fauconnerie britannique au 19e siecle, Gien
SCHLEGEL (H) and VERSTER DE WULVERHORST (A.H.) 1844-1853 Traite de Fauconnerie, Leiden & Dusseldorf
SCHULZE-HAGEN (K) and GEUS (A) 2000 Joseph Wolf (1820-1899) Animal Painter. Marburg an der Lahn
SWAEN (Prof. Dr. A.E.H.) 1925 Enkele Mededeelingen omtrent de Valkenjacht. Jaarverslag Koninklijk Oudheidkundig Genootschap
TUIJN (P) 1994 Le “Traite de Fauconnerie” par Schlegel et Verster van Wulverhorst, Notes sur l’histoire d’un chef-d’oevre. Gien
TUIJN (P) 1994 La fauconnerie a “Het Loo”Hollande. Gien
UNKNOWN app. 1851) Reglement voor het Koninklijk Nederlandsch Valkeniers-gezelschap opgericht op Het Loo in het jaar 1839.
UNKNOWN 26 December 1908 The Field. Portraits of famous hawks.
UNKNOWN 1909. The Field. A famous falcon.
WALL (J.W.M. van de) 1986 De Valkerij op Het Loo. The royal Loo Hawking Club 1839-1855, Haarlem
By Frits Klein
Vervelle (Fr) or Varvel
Coat of arms with the arms of the owner of the bird. Before the falcon was released they made the plate attached to a leg of the bird. When this falcon was found and captured by someone from the shield could be seen who was the rightful owner.
These two gold buttons are from The Loo Hawking Club (1839-1855). The members of this club wore buttons on their hunting clothing. The buttons are made in England by Jennens & Co. in London.
The text on the buttons is: MON ESPOIR EST EN PENNES (my hope is in feathers).
By Tony James
Throughout the ages, falconers in different parts of the world have made use of differing techniques and different items of falconry furniture, to best fit with their requirements. Of course, regional influences and circumstances effect developments within that region, so that, for example, whilst traditional permanent jesses have been largely replaced in the west by the preferred Aylmeri anklets and removable jesses, in much of Arabia the traditional system remains the favoured one.
Generally though, despite these differences, falconers the world over have shared in the development of ideas and equipment and established standard principles and practices. Thus, ‘varvels’ have become largely superseded by the use of the swivel, ‘seeling’ has become almost obsolete in the falconry of today and replaced by the use of the hood, and so on. These developments are well documented in the literature of falconry that spans many centuries.
Occasionally however, there appears a puzzle to test the imagination of falconers, and one such puzzle first came to my attention via the BFC annual publication ‘The Falconer’ in 1987 (page 37) in an article entitled ‘Hawk’s Hobble’.
The article tells of eye witness accounts, relayed by J.E.Harting in The Field of August 16th 1890, of a hawking expedition in Chinese Tartary which took place towards the middle of the 18th century, using a ‘Berkut’.
The eye-witness goes on to mention that the eagle was released from its ‘shackles’, flown at quarry, and then returned to its shackles after the quarry had been killed.
As was noted in the BFC article, no treatise on falconry appears to mention the use of metal shackles, and Harting dismisses these ‘shackles’ as being nothing more than the customary leather jesses. Yet this piece of equipment shown in the photograph, purchased apparently many years ago as a ‘Hawk’s Hobble’, adds to the as yet unsolved puzzle.
Until recently, I’d long since forgotten about the Hawk’s Hobble, but with a little encouragement I resolved to give it further thought.
What could it really have been? Could it really have been a device to hobble the eagles of the Bercutchi, or was there another explanation?
I let my mind run free, and remembering an illustration by Johann-Elias Ridinger (1698-1767) of a mounted falconer leaning over his horse to retrieve a ‘hobbled’ eagle owl, previously employed to lure black or red kites into positions where the kite hawks could be slipped, I wondered if I may have found the answer to the puzzle. Upon further investigation, and despite some wonderfully interesting enquiries, I realised that was not so.
It’s impossible to know whether an easy answer is available, but where better to air a falconry puzzle, unsolved in well over a century, than within the pages of this international magazine?
By Dick ten Bosch
My old friends Gerritjan and Alwine van Nie following a busy life running a large veterinary practice, continue to live in a small farmhouse in a remote area of the Achterhoek. The son of a famous falconer and founder of Adriaan Mollen, Gerritjan has been a lifelong austringer flying his goshawks on rabbits in the National Park De Hoge Veluwe, and on gulls and crows on the banks of the river Ijssel which flows close to his house. When writing to him about new acquisitions of falconry books and prints, he invariably uses Mavrogordato’s words “why not go out and catch something”, reproaching me for not doing the real thing; hunting with a raptor. Despite their remote place of residence Gerritjan and his wife are well connected world citizens with an impressive international network of friends. For decades Gerritjan had been in regular correspondence with some of the great names of international falconry. Upon my return from a trip to the US, I told him about a fantastic book called ‘Life with an Indian Prince’, written by the Craighead brothers and published by the Archives of American Falconry. Gerritjan reacted by saying that he had at one time been corresponding with the prince of this book. One of his letters reads as follows:
22 June, 1982
Dear Mr. Van Nie,
I was delighted to get your letter of June 12th ‘82 and learn all about Falconry in Holland. Whereas you get the chance for some hawking, we now in India have totally banned hawking and hunting: so the art has vanished. My family have had falconry as an hereditary sport, with the best of professional falconers, whose lineage follows Mughal times. A rather traditional method and improved by me after reading many books on falconry thus reaching a very high standard. These maestros have now died with no following behind them and with my eldest brother passing away, we are left with nothing. I am myself an amateur like you but having seen the best of this sport. I am now 65 years, you seem to be younger !
Both the Gos and Sparrowhawk were highly prized in India, the former one of the best of the short winged hawks. We have many Saker falcons also and these are splendid birds. The luggar is inferior to peregrines but while ‘waiting on’, can be devastating. If a bird is flushed right under F. jugger adult, he or she can take any game bird at a disadvantage, but not regularly accept game such as francolins, quail; The tiercel peregrine or shaheen are much better. Strategy or advantage position of a hawk is of vital importance and the falconer will equally try his best to give the advantage to his bird. But in ‘Ringing Flights’, training and endurance counts and is much highly rated in India: Also take of large quarry. I was much interested to learn about your game bag, specially gulls and mallard with sparhawk fem. Conditions over here are different. Many years ago I sent two passage female luggers to Herr Renz Waller of Germany which he trained on pheasants from the fist. He may be over 90 years and Mavrogordato, who I have not met, must also be very old.
Falconry has not until recently threatened any game species except a few but one can easily overdo the sport and too many captures from the nest is not at all desirable. Over shooting can be destructful, specially of big game. With proper rules + restrictions under law falconry is not harmful and less cruel than shooting with the gun in which many go wounded or die of lead poisoning. I find framers of laws have no deep study of the practice of hunting and most Protection Acts + Hunting Regulations lack the practical side to them. The netting of song + other birds for the table and chemical poisons have racked devastation in bird life and still it goes on in many countries. I now try to watch birds, specially raptors in the wild when I can which is not common as in my young days as we live in Bombay; a city of people and pollution. But there are places in N. India where one can still see raptors despite the heavy loss. Tom Cade has just produced a book “The falcons of the World” and you will find it interesting. Unfortunately late Leslie Brown & D. Amadon never consulted me on Indian raptors in their two volumes. Much of the knowledge on Indian avifauna was done by British ornithologists and later compiled + improved by Ripley + Ali in which they have omitted my name in many references. Such is the egotism of professionals.
Who was Dharmakumarsinhji ?
Maharaj Dharmakumarsinhji Bhavsinhji Gohil, born in April 1917 was a scion of the royal family of Bhavnagar State, a princely state before it merged into the Indian Union in 1948. Most of his life he was known by the name of Bapa, a reference to the fact that he was the younger brother of the ruler. Like most of his class he was an ardent hunter and, more importantly, a gifted falconer. It was widely acknowledged in his time that he had the finest collection of falcons under his control and supervision. Orphaned at an early age Bapa studied under an English tutor before departing for Harrow in England. He became the under 14 fencing champion, representing India during the 1930 Helsinki Olympics. An amazingly diverse and talented man he had a lifelong interest in music, art and photography. One of India’s wildlife photography pioneers, his passion for birds made him famous worldwide. In 1950, the Government of India appointed him to survey five states - Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajastan, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh to advise on suitable areas to be declared as national parks and sanctuaries. For three decades he held many conservation oriented government posts and was in fact India’s first Honorary Wildlife Warden, Vice Chairman of the Indian Board for Wildlife. Bapa was a prolific writer. His books Birds of Saurashtra and Sixty Indian Birds are still sought after and his Reminiscences of Indian Wildlife is a valuable collection of hunting anecdotes and observations on the natural history of India.
The above mentioned book Life with an Indian Prince, wonderfully illustrated with many colour photographs, provides a unique picture of the hunting activities of a royal family of an independent Indian State before the Indian Union. Extensive areas, well stocked with prey, were available for hunting and of course many falconers and other servants were employed in all stages of the training of the falcons and hawks and during the actual hunt. Although falconry was a major hunting activity of the ruling family, hunting blackbucks with trained cheetahs and bird shooting were also popular. From the narrative and the pictures of the book it is obvious that the falconry at this Indian court was practiced at an incredibly high level and that the princes were experienced falconers in their own right. This unique book Life with an Indian Prince, is for sale at the Archives of American Falconry in Boise ID 83709 U.S.A.
Bapa died in January 1986, three and a half years after having written the above letter.
By Gary Timbrell
Falconry’s official inscription on UNESCO’s List in November 2010 was an immense achievement, not only for falconry, but for the Intangible Cultural Heritage itself, encompassing as it did, the largest nomination in the history of the UNESCO Convention. To recognise the efforts of all the falconry community, IAF joined with the European Parliament’s Sustainable Hunting Intergroup and FACE (the Federation of European Hunters) in Strasbourg in January 2011 to launch the global celebrations in the European Parliament.
The international line-up of speakers shared their expert views on falconry, hunting, culture and politics and discussed the impact of this recognition for the future of falconry and its potential for hunting in Europe.
Different cultures celebrate achievements in different ways.
In 2011 the United Arab Emirates, the leader of the 11 Inscription countries, brought together celebratory plans which included, in close proximity, a serious conference, a triumphant festival and the hosting of the IAF Council of Delegates Meeting by the Emirates Falconers Cub. The Conference echoed the First International Falconry Conference of 1976, the vision of His Late Highness Sheikh Zayed. Over the three days of this new conference, in three lecture theatres on each day over 80 specialists, falconers, academics and scientists gave presentations; a unique exchange of views and expertise to encourage communications between countries and cultures in keeping with the UNESCO ethos. Alongside the conference the falconry festival used a game-fair format (popular in the UK) to enable the participation of many thousands of falconers from upwards of 70 countries in an informal and more joyous setting.
Different cultures celebrate achievements in different ways and at the end of 2012, IAF went on to provide the blueprint and materials for another celebration, this time back in Europe. Falconers from 18 countries gathered with EU decision-makers, this time in the European Parliament Building in Brussels to launch a unique exhibition: IAF and FACE once again joined together with European Parliament’s Sustainable Hunting Intergroup President, Véronique Mathieu and MEP Bogdan Marcinkiewicz who co-hosted the event.
The purpose behind this Brussels falconry event was to show to Members of the European Parliament and officials - Lawmakers - the many international and cultural aspects of falconry. Every MEP, all 742, was invited to visit the four day exhibition and to the inaugural reception. VIPs from UNESCO, national embassies, NGOs and hunters’ organizations also attended and, since the exhibition was in the main lobby, large numbers of visitors to the European Parliament either deliberately or accidentally made falconry part of their tour. At the opening ceremony 450 people were served drinks and fine game meat from Poland (provided by MEP Marcinkiewicz).
This unique international exhibition brought together displays of images, falconry equipment, tools, books and historical artifacts to convey the deep artistry at the heart of falconry and hunting’s global cultural heritage. There was a photo-opportunity for the MEPs and officials with falcons and hawks of the Club Marie de Bourgogne outside the main entrance of the European Parliament, Place du Luxembourg and also inside the expo. This was accompanied by opening fanfares from traditional jagdhorn blowers of the Czech Republic and the Trompes du Duché de Limbourg. It was a chance for falconers, fellow hunters and other conservationists to meet with EU decision-makers and for the MEPs to meet falconers and to gain a greater understanding of the important place hunting has in communities in Europe and throughout the world.
The focus of the exhibition was in the 23 striking poster panels, two metres high and a metre wide. Each one illustrated an aspect of falconry with a background image and one or two professional quality photographs selected from among the hundreds offered by delegates and friends of IAF. A short text on each one appeared in five languages, sympathetically translated to stress the cultural side of falconry. In the central floor area was a green felt “weathering” with artisan made falconry furniture (mainly exquisitely turned blocks by Tony James) as well as a display of Arab blocks, hawking bags and antique hoods. On the opening night hooded gyr falcons also graced this weathering area.
Lecterns and tables held important historical books and a superb holographic display of the de arte venandi cum avibus of the Emperor Frederich von Hohenstauffen. This magical display, which made the illuminations come to life, jumping out of the book in three dimensions, was first seen in the Vatican Museum and travelled to Al Ain in the UAE for the 2011 celebrations. Other displays were loaned by the Valkenswaard Museum and by ANFA (Association Nationale des Fauconniers et Autoursiers Français); of particular interest was a display of the life of Charles d’Arcussia which clearly illustrated many of the qualities of falconry we wished to emphasize. The great Jac van Gerven, curator of the Valkenwaard Museum, gave a demonstration of artisan hood-making and was constantly surrounded by fascinated visitors. A short film Falconry our Intangible Living Heritage, which offered an outline of the UNESCO-recognized heritage to the assembled MEPs and guests, was also shown.
The importance of the European Parliament
The importance of active involvement by falconers in the European Parliament cannot be underestimated. Besides influencing hunting legislation in its member states the EU, because it forms a voting as block of 27, it affects all the international conventions and national attitudes towards hunting law – CITES, Conference on Biodiversity, CMS, IUCN, Bird Directive etc. This has become especially clear since the constant monitoring of proposed law changes by FACE (formed in 1977) and the foundation of the European Intergroup for Sustainable Hunting in 1985. Since 1969 The International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey has been successfully changing attitudes among the international bodies by communicating the contributions falconers have made to conservation and to culture; IAF has normalized falconry internationally and played a key role in making it acceptable to these international organizations in the same way that FACE is doing the same thing for the wider hunting community. The success of the Brussels Exhibition can be measured in that during the three days it was in place and the day it took to set up and take down, not one single anti-falconry or anti-hunting comment was made, even though the photographs and panels did not shy away from showing raptors striking prey or on kills.
French MEP Véronique Mathieu & Polish MEP Bogdan Marcinkiewicz gave the inaugural address and were joined by the Parliament’s President of the Culture & Education Committee, Doris Pack. Avv. Giovanni Bana, Vice-president FACE, FACE Secretary-General Angus Middleton and IAF President Frank Bond also addressed the assembly.
Special parliamentary derogations were granted for the numbers attending the opening (usually exhibition openings are limited to 50 people) and for entry of fauna into the European Parliament Building. This is truly exceptional and the dispensations came directly from the President of the European Parliament; such is the high esteem carried by the UNESCO recognition of falconry as Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
The event was truly a multi-national occasion: the organizing team from the International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey consisted of Patrizia Cimberio (Italy), Véronique Blontrock (Belgium), Tony James (UK) and Gary Timbrell (Ireland). The FACE team consisted of Yasmin Hammershmidt (Germany), Marilise Saghbini (UK) and Angus Middleton (Zimbabwe). The first meetings towards this event began in January. IAF’s philosophy when planning it was to show to Europe that:
“Falconry glows with potential for the future of humanity; an unbroken thread of culture binding man to his natural world. Hunters are the most important conservationists of all and the fantastic and perennial images that falconry offers must be preserved for future generations.”
I think we were successful.
by Patrick Morel
The high flight was the classical flight of the past ; it is nowadays practised on corvids, which are only modest substitutes for the 'royal' quarry of the past : herons, cranes and kites. The modern high flight, often called the flight 'out of the hood', is a flight where the falcon is cast at the quarry already in view.
Falconry has been recognized as a living cultural heritage. The flight on corvids best illustrates how significant changes of a number of factors can impact the evolution of modern falconry: the influence of the local topography, the need to adapt or change to make the most of a situation.
There are different ways to take the various corvids: to force them into cover from where they are flushed for the falcon, in free flight, or in high flight (flight that is circling and mounting high up into the sky).
In the high flight, the falcon is unhooded to its prey once a good slip is chosen, and once in flight, the hawk chases its quarry, climbing for a dominating position from which it can stoop to the quarry. The flight often mounts very high, the adversary having no other resource than to climb in ringing flight from which it can compete in speed from a superior position.
The Carrion Crow has a black plumage and a beak dark gray to black, stocky and slender, which differentiate it from its close relative, the rook, which has a beak whose base is slightly excavated and white.
The Carrion Crow lives in adult pairs, very territorial and sedentary, or in small family groups (5-9 members) at the beginning of the season until autumn and large flocks of tens or hundreds of individuals during autumn migration and winter.
The Rook plumage has quite a characteristic of uniform black, with a slightly bluish iridescence. Depending on the lighting, the crest and neck provide a blue, green or purple metallic sheen. The flight of the rook is more graceful and agile than the crow. The Rooks are very sociable birds who when paired for breeding live in large colonies or rookeries.
The rook is a protected bird in several European countries, but may be hunted in others subject a derogation system from the EU Birds Directive.
The natural defensive behaviour of the crow, unlike the rook, means it stands up for itself very well on the ground. It is often necessary to intervene to help the falcon once it has its quarry down since other crows may band together and fly to the rescue of their congener and help as long as he is alive but once dead they leave it alone.
In the choice of falcon the ringing flight requires a particular ability from falcons : excellent physical condition, anticipation of defensive tactics and mental strength beyond what is necessary for 'normal' flights.
We therefore prefer a courageous falcon, capable of long pursuits. As the high flight is one that can take the bird to enormous distances, absolute control of the falcon must always be the rule. Females are best suited for this flight, but tiercels can sometimes be effectively flown at both rooks and crows.
For the high flight, the perfect falcon is of normal size, not too large or too intimidating to its prey which could refuse the flight but sturdy enough to be effective in killing her prey in a few seconds. As often in falconry, everything is a question of balance between predator and prey: the best flights are those where the prey has a reasonable chance of salvation by his flight and command of the air. If the quarry feels too dominated in the fight, it refuses to fly and prefers to find refuge on the ground or in a tree nearby.
In preparation the hawk from a young age is fed on crow meat and flown only on corvids, to the absolute exclusion of any game. This is imperative because it also determines access to areas where the falconer is welcome to fly but ... only on corvids!
For the true high flight, one where the prey is beaten in the air and bound to or stuck in flight after an air battle, you need a suitable environment. This type of flight can only be achieved in open countryside without cover (no buildings, groves, rows of trees, hedges, sunken roads, fences, high voltage cables, pastures with cattle or sheep etc ...), in short, a very open environment where the only chance to escape for the quarry is in the air. Early in the season should be added as potential 'cover', standing crops (especially corn) and, in any season, vehicles under which crows seek refuge.
The wind plays a determining role in the quality of the flight. The perfect wind is a breeze up to 10-15 km / h. With winds over 30 km / h, the advantage turns most of the time in favour of the quarry that, thanks to its larger wing flying surface, rises faster than its attacker and is more adept at manoeuvring in the wind.
In the high flight of crows, you must really talk about strategy. The strategy will be to assess the field, taking into account possible cover, the position of the sun, the direction and strength of wind and the presence of check (pigeons, gulls). Crows are located and approached by car, which replaced the horse of previous generations. This is unfortunate progress because the horse as livestock does not worry corvids, being part of the natural landscape and they take no notice whilst cars stimulate caution. Once a slip is chosen, the manoeuvre is to be downwind so as to cast off the hawk into the wind at the crows on the ground and to oblige them to seek their salvation in heaven. Position is chosen in order to cut the route to potential cover, trying to prevent crows seeking shelter. All this must be done in a few seconds and the decision must be fast, because hesitation is often in favour of the crows who were quick to identify any abnormal situation and leave the area.
The hawk will soon select its adversary in the group, concentrating her attack on an individual. The crow, if it is far from any cover where it can find shelter and avoid the stoop of its enemy, has no other recourse than to get into the air knowing that the falcon can do nothing against it before dominating from above and the two birds often reach enormous heights before being in a position to fight. Once the hawk has over-taken her prey, she changes to attack, one stoop after another to try to bind in flight.
Isolated crows or pairs are tough opportunists and always adults who know their territory intimately. If one partner has been taken of the pair, the remaining partner will henceforth exercise extreme distrust and immediately take wing at the approach from any suspicious vehicle that slows down. One of the favourite tactics of defence is for the crow to fly in the same direction as the falcon, standing a few feet above her, mirroring the slightest movement on the falcon, both sides being as "glued" to each other, but with the falcon at a disadvantage. This manoeuvre disconcerts the hawk who is struggling to hold sway over its prey, the only solution consisting to 'clear' and leave the circle of flight to get away. The crow then often takes the opportunity to fly in a straight line to the nearest cover with as likely result an unsuccessful flight. Attacked too far, isolated couples sometimes remain on the ground or give a poor flight, sometimes even getting caught on the ground. Defences of crows are confusing: in general, once a crow is engaged, the other crows take flight without worrying about their congener but, sometimes, especially if a hawk attacks a pair, a crow comes to the rescue of its partner and tries to distract or even attract the falcon's attack on itself, which has the effect of weakening the hawk as she spreads her efforts.
If the prey is in flight, it must always be flown upwind; if the hawk is cast off for a downwind flight, the advantage for the corvid is too big and it will have reached cover before being caught.
The technique of 'shepherding'
Some hawks control and direct the flight a bit like a sheepdog handling a flock of sheep. This technique is often used by wild falcons in nature. Once the falcon has the group under control, the hawk makes one or more attacks of intimidation to test its prey. These false attacks destabilize the opponent and quickly deflate their resolve. The group breaks out in all directions with birds flying erratically, moving away or diving to the ground. The hawk takes its opportunity to select its prey and stoops to hit or bind to the crow in flight. Sometimes it hits its prey with such force that it falls from the sky with a broken wing like a 'dead leaf' in the air.
By nature, the high flight is a type of flying almost beyond control. Once the hawk is cast off, the falconer is a privileged spectator but ... powerless. All the 'work' is in the falconers' strategic choices before striking the braces of the hood and casting off the hawk.
If the prey reaches cover, it is essential not to help the falcon since to do so is to deter the true high flight. The flight from cover is another kind of flight where the falconer and his aides assist the falcon in flushing the quarry from its refuge. The strategy is different because the goal is not to force the crows to seek their salvation in the air but the push them to take refuge in a shed chosen by them (hedges, bushes, low trees), the falconer and his aides are then trying to remove crows by all means for the waiting falcon.
Story of a flight: "The Battle of the Year."
The weather is perfect today - clear sky and a light breeze. I drive directly to one of my favourite flying grounds -a very open plain of almost 3,000 ha. The plain is divided into regular plots bordered by small paths.
Arriving on the ground, I see, in the distance, across the plain, a group of people who are active around a column of vehicles. I go to see what is happening there to find that the paths are closed by barriers. A reconstruction of a scene from the Battle of the Yser, planned to celebrate the centenary of the beginning of the 1st World War (1914-1918), is going to be made by a film crew. Tents are pitched under which helmeted 'enemy' soldiers are fraternizing around a drink. The field was churned by bulldozers to dig trenches, charred tree trunks were planted in a lunar landscape dotted with shell holes, parapets, fences of barbed wire and palisades, a thick curtain of opaque smoke hovers above the ground. It is striking realism : in a few days the designers have achieved a miracle - turning a piece of flat plain into a battlefield.
I cautiously move a good distance away from the film set and begin my search by scanning the plain systematically downwind. After ten minutes of exploration through my binoculars I spot a small band of crows in the middle of the plain. The location is ideal, a path passes 250 m downwind from the crows and a slight promontory overlooking the plain allows a 360 ° view.
Soon unhooded, my immature peregrine falcon "Quinoa", leaves my fist without hesitation towards the group which splits under the pressure of the attack precipitating a stampede. Quinoa has a crow separated from the group and focuses her attacks on this one. The crow is far ahead and manages to mount in circles. The flight is climbing away in spirals like a corkscrew, the hawk being always fifty meters below its rising prey.
The flight lasts for several minutes when Quinoa manages to reach the same pitch as the crow and then overtakes its prey. She dominates by thirty meters before making a stoop at it. The crow closes its wings and drops like lead but is followed by a guided missile shadowing its every move. At the last moment, the crow opens its wings propelling it into the air like a spring throwing Quinoa out of position. She lost control of the field and gives the crow the opportunity to take a serious advantage to climb as fast as it can in large spirals.
The scenario is repeated 7 or 8 times, each flight gaining fifty meters in height on the previous one. The flight ascends into the heavens until it is difficult to distinguish between the opponents. Whenever the crow is reached, the flight comes back to me and the show goes over my head. The defence manoeuvres of the crow leave me astounded, the figures keep coming: spinning descents, turns at right angles, hooks, dives, rolls, loops and last-second dodges: a true aerial ballet. I do not know who to admire most, the fight is beautifully balanced between the incredible agility of the crow and the tenacity of my falcon.
In the distance, I hear the sounds of battle that has just begun: artillery gives voice, cannons and machine guns are raging in a torrent of lightning, explosions, smoke and backfiring.
The flight lasts for nearly fifteen minutes and the morale of the crow at last seems to be affected as during the last stoop, the crow has taken a hit and feathers flew. Again, the flight is high in the clouds and then comes back over me so high it is at the edge of my vision. The crow takes his chance trying to whirl upwind towards the village. Both birds pass high above me and ... move towards the gunfire! This time, Quinoa dominates its prey by a hundred meters, makes an attack of intimidation and stoops, wings welded to the body, leading straight to the crow. The two points plunge to the ground in an infernal descent and bind. The crow is tumbling and falling in a winged whirlwind ... a few meters from the raging battle!
I hardly can tell you of the bewilderment of the film crew upon seeing a person emerge from the smoke with a falcon triumphantly feeding on its prey. I do not know if they kept the cameras rolling but it was a great show.
By Bakyt Karnakbayev
Why is it that one of the most ancient traditions of the nomadic cultures of Central Asia and Kazakhstan - hunting with birds of prey, we only just survive?
Back in the 60's and 70's of the last century, many famous falconers in Europe today have been to Kazakhstan to learn from our berkutchi elders. Today there are people who can teach, the last survivors. Preservation of the traditions of people by itself is necessary, but in addition, falconers festivals may well be one of the revenue items of the domestic tourism industry, as is the case in many countries in the world where the art of hunting with birds of prey came much later than in the present territory of Kazakhstan. On our own berkutchi rallies we had no one to invite. Even for free.
In my family we were not hunters. As a child, I always had small owls, falcons, hawks, but about hunting with them, I did not know, because I lived in a big city; falconers and falconry in the days of the Soviet Union were not welcome. I became interested in hunting with a rifle in the early 90’s with friends for ducks, pheasants and hares.
And in 1999, I met with the late Userbay Kadyrkulov. He had a house in Moyinkum sands, he lived and grazed cattle. Userbay was my first teacher in hunting with birds of prey. This man was just a storehouse of folk wisdom. How much he told me! About birds, berkutchi, about hunting. From him I learned a lot of Kazakh proverbs on birds of prey, for example, “Burkit kustyn Toresy” (“Golden Eagle King of birds”), “Lashyn aspanga ushsa, burkit zherge Konady” (“If Peregrine soars in the sky, the golden eagle sits on the ground!”). And many more.
All of this knowledge is very useful when we started to work hard on our UNESCO project to have falconry recognized as part of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity. But it was later in 1999, I began to actively seek any information about birds of prey. Ralph Pfeffer found a book “Bird on the hand.” From it I learned about the famous Kazakh ornithologist Borodikhin Icar, about the Kazakh berkutchi Abylhak Turlybaev and his elder brother Abdulla Turlybaev. For a month I was sitting, I studied the book, “walked” on the Internet, registered on various websites. Then I went to Almaty and met with Abylhak. Later, he met with Ralph and Icar.
In a short time for my birthday my friend and teacher, Userbay gave me my first goshawk. Three months later I went with him to hunt, but unfortunately, during the event, at night, someone else’s eagle killed my goshawk. But without the hawks I could not live, and again I got a goshawk.
Why goshawk, not the eagle or falcon?
The Goshawk in training is more malleable than the golden eagle. Besides, he is not listed as endangered. But I worked with my hawk in the ancient tradition: in the autumn trap the Goshawk, winter hunting, and in the spring let it go. So it was for our ancestors. The Goshawk quickly returns to the wild and goes to nest in northern Kazakhstan, the Altai. Later I had falcons. We have a valid veterinary hospital in Taraz “Aybolit”, which often has injured birds of prey.
Great military leader Chenghis Khan, was a lover of falconry. More than seven thousand falconers groomed and trained birds of prey to hunt. The eldest son of Chenghis Khan, Zhoshy Khan owned three thousand birds of prey. Court Kazakh Khan Ablai contained about 500 eagles and over 300 goshawks and falcons.
My current path all started with an active online communication with falconers from different countries. I was soon attending various falconry festivals and events in different countries, meetings on hunting with birds of prey and to represent Kazakhstan at all these events.
So in 2007, I was asked to become vice-president of the federation “Berkutchi” Kazakhstan Association of national sports. Then, in 2007, Patrick Morel suggested that I become a national delegate to the meetings of the IAF. In 2008, on the recommendation of President Frank Bond IAF delegates elected me supervisor for Central Asia and Kazakhstan. So, in 2008, in South Africa, I was elected Vice-President of IAF as Assistant for Central Asia and Kazakhstan. What is my job?
I am an advocate for falconry, in this designated area for people engaged in hunting with birds of prey, working with Asian and Russian-speaking falconers, bringing them together. So I was in Kyrgyzstan, where I met with the president of the “Zholchoro” Almazbek Akunov. Each year in the Issyk-Kul and Bishkek ,Almazbek holds several festivals “Salburun.” Here and hunting with birds of prey, and the Kyrgyz Taigan , and archery. Today Kyrgyzstan is also a member of the IAF. Later I found, Uzbek, Azerbaijan, Belarusian falconers, the Azerbaijan and Belarusian clubs joined the IAF. The Uzbek club prepares documents for membership IAF. I have a close relationship with theTurkmenistan club of Falconers and its chairman Ata Eeberdyev.
In 2009, in a car with Abylhak (Alik) Userbay and my son, Islam, we went to Mongolia and were guests at the Festival berkutchi in Bayan Ulgii. Mongolia is also a member of the IAF. In close communication with falconers from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, the North Caucasus, Vietnam, Indonesia, Egypt, Morocco, Qatar, Pakistan, with the falcon nurseries in Kazakhstan and in several Russian cities. Currently falconers are building links with China, but it is very hard. The language barrier in China is not working the social networks like Facebook. In the spring of 2013, I planned a trip to Western China, to meet with falconers in this area of China. Why Western China? First it is very close to Kazakhstan and in western parts of China live mainly Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and Uighurs, who are engaged in falconry and we speak the same language or languages of the Turkic group. In 2010, hunting with birds of prey on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. This is a great achievement.
Yes, the preparatory work was done in six years. And the result has been achieved thanks to the joint efforts of falconers in many countries, foundations, Arab clubs and IAF.
Falconers all over the world are trying to restore the “evidence” that hunting with birds of prey is not barbarism, not cruel killing of animals, but something more - the art, the very life of many people today and in the past.
It’s a shame that Kazakhstan, which has deep roots of hunting with birds of prey, is not included in the list of application to UNESCO for recognition and Berkutchi art and Sayatshi as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity! I spent several years in contact with the Minister of Culture, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, the Senate of the Parliament and to the president of Kazakhstan, so that today our country has ratified the International Convention on the intangible cultural heritage of humanity and then would have the right to vote, in the discussion of such issues. December 20, 2011, to our great joy of President of Kazakhstan signed the UNESCO Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage.
So in the collection of our “evidence” we presented folklore (proverbs, sayings, poems), folk craft, carvings (accessories, leather goods, wood). Success with photos and video footage. A presentation was made, which tells the story about the revival of falconry.
On 16 November 2010 at the UNESCO meeting in Nairobi falconry was voted part of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
What gives the introduction of hunting with birds of prey in the list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity?
Falconers all over the world can be supported by this recognition. Today in Kazakhstan we have about 60 falconers mainly hunting with eagles. It is a very small group. In the small western Mongolia live 200,000 Kazakhs, of which 450 people are berkutchi. In Slovakia, which occupies half of the territory of the Zhambyl region where I live there are about 500 falconers. In Europe, a number of private breeders, which are very well supplied with birds, breed them, with emphasis is on rehabilitation of injured predators. For example, in 2011 the Czech Republic brought falconers 100 eagle chicks. All birds have the documents, they can be hunted. In England, there are more than 20 falconry clubs, which total 2,500 members. In U.S.A. in have 4000 lovers of birds of prey, 2,500 of them have permission to hunt the birds. Falconry is strong in Spain, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Hungary and many other countries.
It turns out that today in Kazakhstan hunting with birds of prey comes not under the court? What’s the matter? Maybe something prevents our legislation? It’s hard to say. Laws themselves for a Falconer are good. But they do not work. Permission to catch a bird of prey is legally possible, but it is like storming the fortress. Frankly, it is easier to catch and keep the bird without any resolution and any documents and that commonly happens. But by European standards - it’s just poaching. How to deal with it, I do not know. You can buy a bird from the breeders, but in Kazakhstan there is just one. In the territory of the former Soviet Union it is the biggest, the prices there for the average person are high, but all the birds are documented with rings. At competitions, which take place in Kazakhstan, there are birds without documents or veterinary certificates. But in this situation it is not the worst. Almost lost is tradition.
The lesson is that falconry requires large investments, a lot of time and patience and most important - to love and understand what you’re doing. The bird is not faithful to a person like a dog, there is a saying: “IT egesy ushyn, cous ushyn tamago” (“The dog is working for the owner, a bird - just for the food”).
In 2011, falconers visited Kazakhstan from Slovakia through IAF. A specialist of the highest level: the vice-president of the Slovak Club Alois Kashshak the oldest berkutchi and Miroslav Mitsenko breeder, strong berkutchi and breeder Lubomir Engler and faculty of veterinary medicine in Košice Dr. Ladislav Molnar. Ladislav is for ten years working in the Arab world with wild animals, the main subject being birds of prey. The main purpose of our action was to share experiences. We held meetings and seminars for veterinarians, hawkers in cities of Kazakhstan - Almaty, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Astana, Taraz and Kyrgyzstan at Issyk-Kul, where the Slovaks told about disease and treatment of birds of prey, their anatomy, nutrition, training. In addition it was about the breeding of birds of prey. The seminar was attended by veterinarians, zoo workers, berkutchi and bird lovers, from the Russian Yekaterinburg flew one falconer from the kennel “Holzan.” Remember a seminar held for our berkutchi in field conditions, in a yurt in the Ust-Kamenogorsk, during the festival of national sports. In 2012, Ladislav Molnar, under contract with the Agricultural University, Veterinary Faculty, spent two weeks lectures and workshops on veterinary raptors among Kazakhstan veterinarians. - Many people ask, how many birds can I keep, and have no idea what it means - to maintain and train even one bird of prey. After seeing hunting they want to become falconers, but after listening to my stories about feeding, training with a bird and a lot of time, going to these classes they grow cold. For three years I have lived with a golden eagle and peregrine falcon. My son and apprentice has a shaheen and saker. I’m trying to revive the national hunt with Kazakh Tazy and Kyrgyz Taigan. In Asia, this is considered classic falconry, the bird is paired with a greyhound. The dog trips the game and bird attacks. I was surprised that the eagle taken from the wild adult hunts better paired with a greyhound than birds taken from the nest or imprints.
By Sue and Dan Cecchini
Powerful, deep wing beats, slice through the icy early morning December air, and carry the black gyrkin higher and higher. The desert landscape is vast and desolate to the uninitiated or uninterested, and the elevation of the desert is about 4,000 ft./1220 m. above sea level. The cold air is loaded with oxygen and provides great cooling for the falcon, but provides no thermal lift. It’s all up to the falcon to muscle his way skyward.
The sun is just peeking over the horizon with no perceptible breeze, but it is still bone chilling cold. We watch for couple of minutes as he climbs. We released him just moments before as we cloaked our activity by standing on the passenger side of our blue Toyota pickup, screening the gyrkin’s takeoff from the quarry.
As is always the case when flying big falcons at challenging quarry, the adrenaline was flowing—in the falcon and us! The journey to this particular flight had started 18 months before when we received a terrific ball of down from Danny and Jorgene Ertsgaard, in the form of a 14 day-old eyas black gyrkin. Danny and Jorgene have a significant falcon breeding operation and some excellent genetics as part of that operation. With schedules that always seemed to be too busy, we weren’t sure about being able to make the time commitment of raising an imprint gyrkin in 2011. It seemed like it could either be a great experience and a lot of fun, or if we didn’t do it right, we could create a malimprint, with a powerful voice and terrible field manners.
We were already flying two tiercel gyr x peregrine hybrids and for us it was a large time commitment during the hawking season. Our older gray falcon was about to enter his seventh season; the younger falcon, a black bird, was going through his first molt. We hunt upland game and waterfowl, with the upland game being primarily sage grouse and the waterfowl being ducks. In the areas we hunt regularly, we don’t have large numbers of slips at either grouse or ducks, each slip typically takes hours of driving, so adding another falcon seemed like a challenge from a logistics point of view. Nevertheless, we decided to jump in and see how we could do, having never flown a pure gyrfalcon before.
When we picked up the ball of white down, the only thing black about him were his two eyes, no other hint of what he would look like fully feathered. We installed him into a high-sided rectangular plastic storage box with clear sides and a bottom lined with artificial turf. He was kept with people 24 hours a day, always. As it was mid-summer and that is typically very hot in our area during the day, we also had a disposable plastic soda bottle filled with water and frozen that we kept in his box so he could lay against it to stay cool. We couldn’t believe his appetite, he seemed like a bottomless pit compared to other eyases we had raised. His appetite resulted in his name becoming Wilbur, after the pig from the book “Charlotte’s Web”. We kept him packed with ground quail and exposed him to as much as we could daily. When we went to sleep at night, we would take his box into our bedroom with us and we would put the lid on his box, just to make sure he didn’t jump out and get into trouble. Things moved along quickly and before we knew it, we had white gyr down floating all around the house as his new black feathers began to poke through. Once he began flying, we didn’t cut his weight, so he would keep a “full” feeling to reinforce good manners around food. One problem with keeping him full was that it made convincing him to work on our time schedule a challenge. The result was a fair number of chases around the countryside employing telemetry to track him down, including having to retrieve him in the dark in the headlights of the truck. Often we would zip into someone’s driveway as he happily sat on their roof and Dan would jump out swinging the lure and whistling while Sue would quickly prepare for our escape. Somehow, we managed to allude calls to the police. Eventually we established a routine, and flying off at the beginning of each flight diminished. During that first season, a lot of time went into developing his flying routine and physical conditioning. He spent and continues to spend all of his nights in the house on a round perch in the living room, watching television; particularly enjoying nature shows that have flying birds, ducks and pigeon are real favorites! If it is not a flying day, he is taken out to his mews first thing in the morning; he is then picked up after dark and brought into the house to spend the evening and night with the family. We all look forward to Wilbur joining us in the evening; he is truly a part of the family.
It’s fun to reminisce about how far he has come in his development as we watch him pumping hard climbing to 400 ft./ 120 m., his black wings rowing against the dense cold air. We head for where the sage grouse are crouched in the sagebrush 100 yds /100 m. off the road, as he continues to climb. The bright tinkle from the cold bell on his leg rings crisply in the icy atmosphere. Before we get even half way to the grouse, a single unaccounted for grouse flushes from the sage in front of us, suddenly two more join him. The gyrkin immediately shifts from his athletic climbing wing beat to an all business hunting pursuit flight.
Watching a gyrfalcon in pursuit of quarry is to watch the pinnacle of eons of winged predator-prey evolution. Both birds have developed into amazing examples of adaptability to extreme and hostile environments. Sage grouse live in an environment that ranges across some of the most extreme temperatures on the face of the earth. In the summer, the daytime temperatures can reach well above 100o F/38o C, while in the winter the nighttime temperatures can reach -40o F/-40o C. Even during a single 24 hour period it is not unusual for the temperature to swing 50 degrees from daytime to nighttime; the low humidity and often cloudless skies of the sage steppe allows for these dramatic temperature swings. Water is at a premium in many parts of the sage grouse’s range, with total annual precipitation only approximately 10 in./25 cm. In some areas of their range, sage grouse will fly up to 20 miles per day just to get to water. The gyrfalcon is equally amazing in his endurance of extreme environment and weather conditions. While we bundle up in the bitter cold, he clearly enjoys it and flies even harder. With evolution telling both prey and predator that they are flying for their lives, there is no room for error. Both are flying for their lives; the grouse literally and the gyrfalcon because his native environment can be harsh and lethal when quarry is not caught.
The sage grouse heads to the west across the sage flats, over the road and fence and keeps going, shifting into high gear once well underway.
For a sage grouse in December, this was something that must have happened many times before. This area is filled with many wild raptors that regularly hunt and catch sage grouse, the most common one being golden eagles. When driving through the sage steppe in pursuit of sage grouse, we often encounter up to a half dozen golden eagles. Some eagles are perched, some flying, all of them a threat to our falcons. This area has little variety to offer golden eagles when it comes to ground quarry in the winter; one of the principle foods for these wintering golden eagles is sage grouse. The sage steppe is also home to prairie falcons, both breeding and wintering in the area. While a typical prairie falcon is not as deadly to winter sage grouse as an eagle, they are happy to take sage grouse when the opportunity presents itself, or interfere with our flights!
Unlike the grouse who had to live by his wits every day or become a meal and a casting for a golden eagle, for Wilbur this type of flight wasn’t second nature, yet. Compared to a wild bird that has to kill every couple days, year-round, or die, falconry birds, like Wilbur have a lot more chances to make mistakes, learn, and try again another day. Wilbur did not have a lot of successful flights to his credit, he just had good physical conditioning, limited experience with quarry, and hard-wired genetics from his ancestors that survived for countless generations in the frozen far north of the planet. We stood there and watched both birds fly out of sight along the horizon. This type of flight, a large falcon tail-chasing a grouse, is singularly frightening to a falconer in sage grouse and golden eagle country.
The prehistoric eagles flying out here like to eat both grouse and their pursuers. It was almost exactly one year before, just a short distance from our location that we lost our treasured hunting partner, Hapa. Hapa, our seven-year-old gray tiercel hybrid, had been killed by a wild red-tailed hawk after chasing quarry to ground in the sage. Several years before that we had a female peregrine killed and eaten by a golden eagle while out flying. And several years before that we had another female peregrine killed by golden eagles while out hawking ducks. Anytime one of our falcons gets out of sight in sage grouse country, our adrenaline really begins to flow. We are confident that we can find our falcons, even if it takes days; what we aren’t confident about it that we will catch up with them before an eagle or redtail does.
Sue pulled the Marshall telemetry receiver from the holster hanging on her shoulder and opened the antenna tines. Flicking the dial clockwise, we got the signal from one of the Powermax transmitters on Wilbur’s legs. The signal was strong, after a minute it became weaker. Waiting another interminable minute, watching the tiny needle in the strength meter bounce with each pulse of the transmitter to see if Wilbur was making his way back to us, but the signal wasn’t getting stronger, it was beginning to fade. We began jogging through the sage in the direction of the signal. We crossed the narrow dirt road and then crossed the triple strand barbed wire fence. The fence was set up by the ranchers running cattle on the BLM to be able to manage some of the movement of the cattle. It was a very well maintained, tight fence and it was a very cold day, making the wire strands even tighter as the steel refused to yield to our pressure against it. Dan climbed over the top of the fence, stepping gingerly to prevent catching the crotch of his pants on the barbs. Sue rolled on the ground under the fence, trying to avoid having any barbs from the wire catch the fur-trimmed hood on her thick red winter coat. Once past the fence, we quickly regrouped, checked the telemetry signal direction, and started in its direction, eyes to the horizon. We were 50 yds/m. into our journey across the sage steppe. A faint tinkle was heard above us, a quick glance skyward and we both spotted the gyrkin 300 ft/100 m. above us. We quickly made a 180 degree change in direction and headed back the way we came, toward the barbed wire fence. Again we began the crossing, Dan carefully climbing over and Sue slipping under the tight barbed wire fence. Once across the fence we checked and Wilbur was still waiting-on above us, patiently. Wilbur’s black cross-like figure showed up well against the gray morning sky. We decided to head back to where the flight started, to see if another grouse might still be in the sage. Moving as fast as we could through the sage, Wilbur stayed above us and began to climb again. When we were 50 yds/m. from the road another grouse flushed and the result was the same as with the first flight. Wilbur folded his wings, then pumped down toward the fleeing sage grouse.
December grouse are very difficult quarry, with innate confidence in their escape strategy, a natural rocking motion as they fly away from aerial predators. To the uninitiated, the rhythmic rocking would seem to indicate something is wrong with the grouse, but in fact it makes for a much less predictable target for the falcon, much like an athlete on the football field zigzagging while moving downfield, to keep defenders off balance, making an effective strike difficult. The next defense that grouse have is a high top speed once underway, making successful tailchases of late season grouse something that doesn’t occur frequently, and late season sage grouse have plenty of endurance, with grouse able to fly miles when pressed hard by strong predators. Finally, sage grouse have the ability to take what should be a devastating strike by large falcons and just keep on going, even if bounced off the frozen ground.
This second grouse being pursued took off when the black gyrkin was quite wide in his circling. Being only 300-400 ft./100-125 m. high, he was unable to make a successful strike on the grouse. He dropped down behind the westward fleeing sage grouse and started rowing hard, making up some ground on the grouse. About 100 yds/m out, the grouse pushed the afterburner button and opened up a lead on the pursuing gyrkin, but not enough to lose him. We again opened the Marshall receiver as Wilbur disappeared from sight on the western horizon. We flicked on the dial and pointed the yagi antenna in the direction in which both birds disappeared-deja vu! The signal got weaker after several minutes. We began to speculate about whether Wilbur had just used his dogged gyrfalcon persistence and followed the grouse until it put in and then closed on it. Enough of the debate, we decided that we needed to start heading on foot in the direction of the flight, in the event an eagle had been watching all of the action taking place thus far. We crossed the road again at a jogging pace and came to the same spot in the barbed wire fence, using the same strategy to cross, Dan over the top, Sue under the bottom. Reoriented on the other side of the fence, we took a reading on the telemetry and started making our passage across the sea of sagebrush towards the signal. A slight tinkle rang across the icy winter air. This got us thinking that perhaps he did take the grouse on the ground. The telemetry signal was no longer coming from west of us. Time to use all of our senses to try to locate the gyrkin. Suddenly a flick of a black wing caught our attention as he was directly over us, hovering gyrfalcon style at 300-400 ft./100-125 m., not circling at pitch. We again made a 180-degree change in direction and headed back to our now familiar friend, the triple strand barbed wire fence. Dan climbing over, Sue slipping below; as we write this it is becoming clearer to Dan why Sue is frequently taking her coat to the cleaners! On the other side, we looked up and Wilbur was hanging above us like a kite. With hope for one or two more grouse to still be in the sage where the last two flights began, we took our dwindling energy and started to jog toward into the sage, folding the yagi tines as we moved. We had little hope that we could flush another grouse or that Wilbur had the energy to take it, multiple flights on a group of grouse are a really rarity for us, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.
By now, Wilbur had been on the wing for 15-20 minutes, chasing sage grouse out several miles then returning to us two separate times. We figured that his muscle strength and endurance would be spent, ours was sure waning. We anticipated that he might land on the blue Toyota pickup truck or start making lazy loops around us hoping for the lure to be produced. It didn’t seem likely that any sage grouse would be left, but Wilbur was staying so enthusiastic about flying grouse in the moment, that we couldn’t help be give it one more try to get another grouse up for him to try his luck. Amazingly, several more grouse flushed way out ahead of us and headed south this time. Wilbur was way out of position on the north side of his waiting-on circle. Without hesitation, Wilbur started towards the grouse, pumping hard and fast. Dan ran toward flight, perpendicular with the flight path of Wilbur heading south toward the grouse that flushed. Dan’s hope was that perhaps luck would be on our side this time and there would be one more grouse left to flush and it would take off in the flight path between the flying grouse and Wilbur. Unbelievably, a last single grouse did flush right in front of Dan and we started yelling “Ho Ho Ho!”.Wilbur quickly shifted his focus from the grouse he was pursuing to the last grouse which flushed and which was much closer to him. Wilbur was traveling very fast by now and he slammed the grouse about 20 feet/8 m off the ground. The grouse hit the ground hard, and Wilbur winged over and grabbed it on the ground as if he had been doing this for years. This was his first sage grouse! We couldn’t believe it. We both arrived as fast as our relatively slow human legs could carry us to the scene of mayhem. Wilbur had things in control, but Dan made a quick grab for the grouse just in case it suddenly sprang to life. Adrenaline was flowing. We have been hunting sage grouse for years with tiercel gyr x peregrine hybrids and have had many wonderful flights, but never did we have a falcon that so clearly was able to knock down a hard flying winter sage grouse so convincingly.
After our celebrating and a few pictures to document the event for ourselves, Wilbur was well rewarded. It had been a quite morning in the winter desert, with no other people in sight. Then as we picked up Wilbur and fed him his reward, we could hear the sound of a truck in the distance. Halfway back to the Toyota, a 40 year old Chevy pickup truck came into view with an overloaded bed full of cut firewood heading along a two-track route through the sage, having just cut up some of the western juniper which has been encroaching on the sage steppe throughout the sage grouse range. The truck turned onto the narrow dirt road and slowly drove past our truck. We were a bit concerned because the wood was stacked so high and the truck leaning so much to the left, we thought it was going to fall over and block our return home. Fortunately, the wood or truck didn’t fall over and very slowly disappeared miles down the road.
It was another magical moment out in the American sage steppe. We had gotten up several hours before dawn to be able to get out to the desert before the golden eagles are normally on the wing, giving us at least the illusion of safety from wild eagle predation. The long drive in the dark out to sage grouse country is special and different. It is a remote environment, dangerous to humans in the winter, but a place that burns itself into the mind. It can be addicting for the adrenaline rush of the hunt, the risk from attack by wild predators, and the solitude that only wilderness can provide to the inner peace. For however long it lasts into the future, it is now part of us and our souls.
By Patrick Morel
We are woken before the call for the first prayer of the morning, 'al fajr'; a deep voice singing. The camp slowly comes alive. It is thanks to the invitation of Jacques Renaud and HE Mohamed al Bowardi that a party of ten enjoy a hawking party in the hunting reserve of the royal family of Abu Dhabi (UAE) al Nahyan, based at Bouarfa in the north-eastern region of Morocco. Our camp is divided into three zones of tents and bungalows equipped with all comforts beside an area for stewardship. Each bungalow is equipped with a living room and two or three bedrooms, each with bathroom.
A hearty breakfast buffet worthy of the five stars hotels awaits us and after a chat around a fire, it’s off to flying the falcons. The car park, worthy of an auto show is filled with dozens of all-terrain vehicles. The Land cruiser, symbol of all-terrain, superseded the camel, traditional ‘ship of the desert’. We do not lose anything from the standpoint of comfort, each vehicle is luxuriously equipped with navigation system, leather interior and a mini-bar filled with cold drinks, a fruit basket and a picnic basket in case we would have need of a snack before lunch.
Outside the camp we are accompanied by Kebir, head guard, who leads us to the section of the desert where we were to fly. Miloud, one of the best guards, specializing in spotting and tracking game is already in place. In the distance, the ochre lights burn the mountains Jebel Akhdar. Our column of vehicles go off road to speed along the tracks in a cloud of dust. We arrive in the hunting area near a school for young shepherds, it is in fact a cabin in the middle of nowhere, in sandgrouse habitat.
The quarry that we are going to hunt is the sandgrouse. The sandgrouse is for me the “ultimate quarry” - one of the finest and most challenging quarry birds you can fly with a high flying waiting on falcon. It is very motivating to attend flights at mythical game which is a master in the art of dodging the falcon. The sandgrouse has a quick start, great acceleration and more particularly a surprising and incredible evasive ability; its defence technique is similar to snipe or plover. Despite its fragile appearance (the slightest touch produces a handful of feathers) it has thick skin, in every sense of the word! If not approached correctly and intimidated by a high flying falcon, even several hundred meters away, sandgrouse will flush in the wind, leaving no chance to the falcon.
The sandgrouse is a medium-sized bird with an elongated body. It has an overall appearance reminiscent of a cross between a pigeon and a partridge with short legs and long pointed wings. The coloration of plumage (sand or tan) associated with various designs of feathers gives it a perfect camouflage with its environment. It is quiet on the ground but noisy in flight. Outside the breeding season, the sandgrouse feeds on mainly vegetarian small hard seeds and plants. It flies several times a day looking for food or water in the morning and late afternoon.
The habitat were we are hunting is the desert steppe bordered by mountain ranges of the Middle Atlas. With a hot climate in summer and cold winds in winter, the life in the desert is hard. The vegetation consists mainly of white wormwood and xerophytic vegetation (sagebrush, thorny bushes and grasses).
On the edge of the desert, the Dorcas gazelles and the fennec foxes are rare but alternatively Moroccan birdlife is extremely varied with over 300 species of birds. Raptor enthusiasts can see Lanner and Barbary falcons, vultures, owls, buzzards and kites, not to mention eagles. In the desert regions, lots of reptiles can be found as ‘sand fish’, the desert skink, agama, horned viper and cobra.
Eight falcons are to be flown, all are experienced hawks who took one or more sandgrouse this season. Puntero and Pincelin, peregrine tiercels of Augustin; Zambra, entermewed peregrine falcon and Isar, gyr/peregrine tiercel of Carlos; Bloody Mary and Brujula, two Red Naped Shaheen falcons of Fran. Karim and Damian, the ‘locals’, are used to flying at sandgrouse: “Karima” the Barbary falcon of Karim has already taken nine sandgrouse this season while “Penelope” the passage falcon of Damian has 14.
Miloud calls us and tells us he has spotted a dozen sandgrouse. The conversations are in pidgin, a colourful mixture of four languages: Arabic, English, French and Spanish. Miloud shows us the location of the sandgrouse. It takes several minutes before discovering some birds in the sand, completely invisible with their camouflaged feathers. As with most of the guards, Miloud is a champion for spotting birds; he knows every acre of his land and he knows the habits of birds and their movements several times a day.
Carlos is the first to fly: his falcons are accustomed to early morning flights. Every falconer has his habits, his times and his mannerisms! Carlos moves away from us several hundred meters to put Zambra on the wing upwind. Unfortunately Zambra spots a band of sandgrouse passing loudly several hundred yards away and high up she is in hot pursuit. She disappears over the horizon and the receiver is needed. Soon, a reassuring signal indicates that the falcon returns. She is seen in the binoculars coming back to us at a height of 250 meters. Carlos and the Spanish helpers are progressing slowly towards the hidden sandgrouse, guided by us. The role of ‘marking’ is crucial and it is imperative to have clear landmarks because sandgrouse are invisible on the ground and you can be just a few meters from them without them moving. After a few minutes, noisy sandgrouse take flight. The falcon has shifted and made her stoop, but at the time of impact, the sandgrouse has weaved and dodged, a few feathers fly but the sandgrouse is far away and the falcon abandons the flight.
Miloud and Kebir have left us at the start of the flight to go and locate another group to fly. Miloud signals to us he has birds in sight. After rejoining him and having marked the birds, the Spaniards move away to slip a falcon on the wing. As usual, they are often slow to get into flight, there is much argument, with, like good Latin, a lot of gesticulations! Long minutes passed to create a strategy and determine if this is the right time to fly, whether the wind is not too strong and so on. Jacques starts to be impatient, the sandgrouse are on the alert, ready to flush. Augustin finally has Puntero on the wing, the tiercel rises lazily in slow circles. When he comes above a ruined hut, he stoops. He will be taken up on a rock dove. The sandgrouse have not waited and flew away as soon as the threat disappeared.
Kebir warns us that he spotted two groups of sandgrouse. Fran believes that this is a good opportunity for him, although his falcons are accustomed to fly later in the evening. Bloody Mary, is unhooded. She does not show great enthusiasm for flying and scans the landscape, rouses feathers and puts a leg up. After a while, she starts flying but without conviction and Fran calls her to the lure.
The sandgrouse have not budged. It’s Karim’s turn to fly. Karim carefully marks the birds and is away in the 4x4. Flying most of the time alone, he has developed a tactic that may seem surprising. He recedes several hundred meters above the wind and puts the bird on the wing from the window of the 4x4. A flag is attached to the window and Karim’s approach is driving, the falcon rising above the vehicle and following the flag that distinguishes the vehicle from other ones. Philippe directs the manoeuvre through the sunroof like Napoleon leading his troops, hand in jacket less. The vehicle is quickly approaching his landmarks -a tire sunk into the ground, two sagebrush and a plastic bag- the falcon waiting on 250 meters high and perfectly centred on the flag. Some zigzag bring flushing sandgrouse. The Barbary stoops and quickly reaches a sandgrouse to hit it in an explosion of feathers. This time it is? Nope, the sandgrouse makes a pirouette, a lightning acceleration and leaves the hawk standing. Karima, accustomed to several services quickly resumes her pitch. Taken out every day in the hot hours, Karima likes soaring in the thermals. Karim returns and stands beside Kebir, who has not lost sight of the second group. He takes again his marks. The approach is the same way: rise to the pitch and hawk centred on the car. The falcon is now over 1500 feet, it merges with the sky, the light absorbing its silhouette. A ploughed area prevents approaching the sandgrouse in the car and the last part of the manoeuvre is on foot. Some sandgrouse rise at our feet with loud whistles and shouts. Karima has plunged but, once again, the sandgrouse makes an evasion and puts the turbo on leaving the place and the falcon. Undeterred, Karima renews her momentum. We do not move – Kebir tells us that, according to his counts, there should be more birds. After ten minutes, the falcon is sighted, she is no more than a speck in the air when she comes over us. We lift our feet into two sandgrouse - the flush is instantaneous - Karima comes to the ground behind the sandgrouse hoping to connect with her quarry, we believe the kill assured but the sandgrouse dodges and leaves the hawk disappointed. She is taken down to the lure.
We reach some tents in the desert near an oasis for lunch which I expect to be frugal, probably a few dates and coffee. As a Spartan regime, but there is a gargantuan meal. On large oriental rugs folding chairs are prepared. Once barefoot, two silver ewers invite us to wash before the meal prepared in the tent. Countless dishes before us, barbecued lamb, camel, goat, chicken, houbara, sandgrouse, hare and fish surrounded by a profusion of rice and vegetables dishes. Everything is eaten by hand in the Arabic tradition, seated astride on cushions around a low table. Finally, pastries, fruit, yogurt, tea and coffee, delicious dates complete the meal. Satisfied, we leave our meal to the guards and assistants. Dunes around the tents are studded with dozens of Berber families who await their turn to feast, food is scarce in the desert and our hosts are generous with the natives. The project for conservation of species and the management of a huge game reserve has a huge cost but the financial Arabic manna has benefited local people who have income only for pastoral farming. Apart from thousands in direct employment in the breeding or releasing of bustards, most of the economy of the region is funded by Emiratis: roads, infrastructure, telecommunications, water, gas and electricity.
In the afternoon, in a cloud of dust, two separate columns depart, one a search of bustard and the other sandgrouse.
This is Damian’s turn to fly. Miloud spotted two different groups of sandgrouse, not far from each other. Damian has a flying technique different from others, he walks upwind onto the birds. I love this type of flying I often practiced myself, it gives the falcon more chance to bind as the quarry is flushed upwind. Penelope rides the wind on the limit of visibility. Very intimidated, the sandgrouse wait until the last moment to take off and fly close to the ground. A male breaks from the group, sacrificing himself to draw the attack of the hawk. As Penelope drops like lead behind the grouse, it flies to the vehicles and revolves around them trying to hide under a vehicle and suddenly disappears. In fact, it is a sham and the bird took advantage of our blind spot to dodge the attack and speed away. A favourite defence tactic of sandgrouse and golden plover, is to fly in tight circles around the falconer so the falcon quickly loses its speed in tight circles and the quarry escapes with acceleration. It should be noted that the plover does not adopt this technique if it is pointed and flushed by a dog, it goes straight - there may be food for thought for the flight on sandgrouse! The falcon remounts very well and crosses the wind, everyone goes in a line to try to flush the other group of sandgrouse. The strategy is paying off and the falcon is served when well placed. The stoop is superb, overtaking the sandgrouse at full speed, the hawk trying to bind it from under but the bird is only feathered and quickly gone - this game is definitely evil!
As the afternoon advances, falconers do not seem eager to fly but around 16:30, suddenly it is the commotion of battle - everybody wants to fly!
Augustin takes his tiercel. Pincelin quickly takes a good pitch, about 200 meters above the line of hunters. There is a shout to warn of soaring sandgrouse as we follow the action with binoculars. The stoop is almost vertical and the prize seems assured, but, again, feathers flying and the sandgrouse escapes with mocking cries.
It is now time to fly Brujula. She usually flies in cast with Bloody Mary but her flight partner is a bit too fat. Last year, the shaheens made some beautiful flights in a cast to remarkable heights. Equipped with an altimeter, they flew dsily to a pitch of more than 1000 meters: needless to say they were out of sight!
Kebir spotted a pair of sandgrouse together. Brujula leaves the fist and begins to turn in the wind. After a few minutes she comes back to us. The altimeter indicates 275m -less than his usual pitch, between 500 and 600 meters- but still high enough to make a service. She returns to Fran who slowly starts towards the sandgrouse. Arriving at the marked place –nothing-, they are gone! Fran is only one meter from a sandgrouse when it flushes from his feet. The attack is a devastating ‘drop’ stoop, almost vertical. This time, the hawk does not fail and the sandgrouse is hit, Brujula rebounds and with a quick “loop of death” ensures her prize. Fran rewards Brujula who sits eyes half-closed on her prize.
The afternoon draws to a close and the night falls quickly. In a glowing sky, Carlos casts Isar. Unfortunately, the sandgrouse take off when putting him on the wing. Isar makes a long tail chase and then returns high to cut the full moon. We raise a few straggler sandgrouse for the falcon but they have not been seen or are ignored. He is taken down to lure in the headlights of a 4x4.
We meet around a good fire to discuss the day’s flights. Spaniards are even more talkative than in the field and each has his own analysis and explanations accompanied by much gesticulation. Dinner, nearly as plentiful as lunch, is served in the restaurant tent.
Observations on sandgrouse hawking:
The sandgrouse is a fantastic game and a constant challenge to the falconer, with very few taken but which provides breathtaking and of incredible intensity flights.
In five stays during the last few years, only ten sandgrouse have been taken – which means a ratio of about one kill for 35-40 flights! The best season was 2012 with 6 sandgrouse. The sandgrouse is a game that defends well, at a point that if, at the beginning of the stay, a flight of two ended with feathers of birds, almost all flights at the end of the stay were ending with a refusal by the falcon, disgusted with this devilish game. And yet, the birds were experienced, seasoned hawks!
Everything must be perfect: casting off, climb, pitch, position of the falcon, falconer’s approach, wind, service and of course it requires physical fitness, agility and especially a high morale of the falcon. This is why the sandgrouse, with a few other ‘ultimate’ quarries, represents the pinnacle of the waiting-on flight.
To my mind, the only hawks able to be regularly successful are passage hawks or perhaps long hacked hawks. Among the avenues to explore: flying two falcons in a cast, especially if the birds concentrate their attack on the same prey: the prey can dodge one attack but hardly from both. Wild Lanners often fly together in pairs and sandgrouse is a regular prey. Perhaps the use of a good pointer would be useful to confirm identification or find other birds in case of premature flushing and could help the sandgrouse to provide a fair flight. Falconry has been recognized as a living cultural heritage. Sandgrouse, more than any other quarry, remains a challenge demonstrating that falconry is a living art, a form of selective and sustainable hunting.
By Mark Williams
Over the past three decades I have managed to experience and enjoy various facets of falconry and in recent years have been fortunate to travel overseas to see how others practice their sport. I’ve learned that we (falconers) are united by a common interest and sense of camaraderie that breaks down any cultural, language and social differences and wherever I have travelled overseas I have encountered nothing but open, welcoming and receptive friendship and a desire to share and exchange ideas and knowledge. Indeed I have made many long-term friends as a result of these travels within the sport. In turn I make it a point of reciprocating with anyone wanting to visit Canada and have often acted as host to brief acquaintances and in some instances, people I have never met before, who are passing through.
Indeed I have made many long-term friends as a result of these travels within the sport. In turn I make it a point of reciprocating with anyone wanting to visit Canada and have often acted as host to brief acquaintances and in some instances, people I have never met before, who are passing through.
A recent return to South Africa with my son Gareth was such an experience and I finally got to see a very different form of grouse hawking to that which I had previously experienced both in Scotland, UK and various parts of North America, the experience of which I will attempt to share and articulate to you now.
Sand Grouse are perhaps the most challenging of the South Africa Falconry game species and unlike the Red Grouse of Europe or Sharp-tail, Sage and Prairie Chickens of North America; the African species are pigeon like in appearance and flight but with grouse like plumage and taxonomy. The only game bird I have seen that resemble it are the rock ptarmigan we have locally and found at high altitudes above the tree line.
I had never seen a Sand grouse before this trip and to my knowledge there are four different species of grouse in South Africa, these being double banded Sand Grouse, Yellow Throated, Namaqua and Burchell’s. The first grouse I had seen was actually in Kruger National Park during the first stage of our trip where I wanted to photograph as much of the African wildlife as I could. It was a double banded Sand Grouse which apparently are more inclined to habiting areas of heavier cover. I doubt they are hawk-able with highflying falcons for this reason and would be interested to learn if they are pursued at all with some of the African short-wing species.
As most readers will know …or have experienced as a participant or spectator, that in Europe and to some greater extent (although not exclusively) in North America, grouse hawking is best done with the use of a good big running dog. In fact it is my personal experience that this facet of our sport is enhanced greatly by the use of a good dog like English pointer, Setter or HPR breed. In stark contrast the grouse hawking I witnessed in South Africa is practiced exclusively without the use of dogs and is reminiscent of my experience of prairie chicken hawking in Nebraska, Kansas and mid-west American states where birds are mostly flown in the late afternoon after having waited and watched them fly into the crop fields to feed.
My host in this trip was Tim Wagner, a long time friend who has visited me on a few occasions over the years in Canada while attending our National field meets. Indeed at one time Tim was very serious about moving to Canada but his lovely wife Elise was put off by the often harsh Canadian winters. Tim is a good falconer, modest in his abilities as both falconer and breeder and who specializes in flying the African Peregrine (Peregrinus minor). These birds are smaller than most species I am familiar with, perhaps with exception to the Barbary and are perhaps most similar to our Tundra Peregrine in North America. The females fly about 680-730 grams and males about 430-500 Grams. In coloration they are strikingly similar to our North American Anatum peregrine with a peachy, orange breast and nice dark cap being their distinctive redeeming features.
The main purpose of my South Africa trip was visiting my lifelong friend Mark Holder who I had grown up hawking with in the UK before I immigrated to Canada and he later went to South Africa. On this trip I was also attending the South African falconry meet and combining some photographic opportunities on African wildlife. We had seen some great hawking with both long-wings and short-wings at the SAFA meet and towards the end of the trip were invited to stay with Tim and go hawking Sand Grouse since I had not managed to see this during this or my previous visit to South Africa. The grouse Tim hawks are found about 1 ½ hours north west of Johannesburg where Tim lives. We came across several locations Tim had previously scouted and found grouse in healthy numbers. It seems that areas of recent burns and fresh new growth are where the grouse like best and they feed on the seeds of a grass called crotalaria.
On our first outing we got to the destination by 2pm and weathered the birds on blocks and waited. It seemed that the many species of doves along with the grouse used a certain flight line to come from water to feed and roost. So numerous were the birds in their numbers that it would have made a good driven dove shoot if you were so inclined. True to form the Grouse started to fly in around 4pm as the sun stated to set. Their flight style is very similar to that of a pigeon and they were difficult at first (to the untrained eye), to distinguish from the other species of doves that were using the same flight path.
The process for Sand grouse hawking was to wait until they flew in and mark where they had landed. These grouse appeared to be coming in pairs which might be reflective of the late stage of their hawking season and, if anything like our partridge hawking in Canada where towards the end of the season they begin to pair up …which for me at least is the sign to hang up the glove for the season as partridge is my main quarry. Anyway back to Sand Grouse, Tim assured me that weeks previously the grouse were coming in, in good numbered flocks. We scanned the skies and watched a pair drop in nearby Tim gathered up a bird off the block and readied her for flight. His bird took a very respectable pitch as we started to walk in. Pre-occupied with trying to get some photographs I had lost my mark and had no idea where the grouse were. This is where I could see the use of a steady dog to re-located and point, much like some folks back home use their dogs to relocate a partridge covey or grouse flock that had been bumped from the roadside to nearby cover. Tim assures me that their air washed scent is very hard to pick up with a dog and the dog usually becomes a distraction he does not need or bumps prematurely. The falcon was reaching a nice pitch when the pair of grouse bust and headed off low off the ground. As anticipated, they were fast, fast like a good homing pigeon and if the falcon did not have a good pitch and fast pumping stoop they would have their doors blown off. The first flight ended unsuccessfully but the falcon did put a foot to one but not a killing blow and the grouse made good their escape as the falcon peeled off once it realized a tail chase was futile. It was a good flight and a good insight of what to expect next time.
Time was getting on as we drove looking for grouse from the sanctuary and comfort of the truck. This part reminded me of how we often hawk upland in Canada, particularly in the winter when snow covers the ground. Although not the most purest form of hawking, it is often very productive, particularly when you have several birds to fly and game is abundant. The late afternoon went on and now the sun had set when Tim decided to fly an area on spec. It was getting to what we in Canada call “owl o’clock”, when the sun is well set and the time we most likely are to encounter Bubo as they come out to hunt. Having lost a bird to an owl and having several other close encounters with them it was foremost on my mind. However not knowing African predators as well, I was unsure what to expect and Tim seemed un-phased.
Tim’s bird took a fantastic pitch. The light was so poor I decided to leave the camera behind and concentrate on the flight. We kept walking as the light faded and I was beginning to think it was well time that Tim called the volunteer into action. The situation was becoming desperate and anxiety was high but before I could say the words, I almost stepped on a grouse and up gets a second moments later with both heading off at great speed. My head snapped back like whip lash in a car accident and I was fortunate to re-locate the falcon’s position the moment she rolled over to start her stoop directly above me.
My position was perfect and I was fortunate to witness a vertical pumping stoop right at me that seemed to last for several seconds. The sight was a shot in the arm to my sensory receptors and my blood filled with the endorphins and adrenalin perhaps resembling a self-induced narcotic high. The grouse were far out by the time the falcon leveled out behind them and at one brief point from my perspective I thought they might leave the falcon behind but it soon become apparent her speed was tremendous from her stoop and she sucked one up in her long outrun. The suspense and excitement was high and I let out a built up cry of emotion resembling a fan witnessing a goal scored by a favorite sports team. Tim came running up and we high fived at the outcome of such a fine flight. I have to say that with hindsight it ranked up there amongst one of the finest flights I have encountered in my falconry career and will be cherished along with other memorable flights over the years. A fitting end to a great three week stay in South Africa with great people and great falconry.
The Presidential Term of Frank M. Bond
For more than fifteen years that I have been active as a representative of the IAF. I realize that I am one of the privileged few to see falconry as it is practiced in many parts of the world. In the last six years as President, I found that the world falconry community expects more of the IAF with each succeeding leader. My years as president have taught me three lessons. First, world falconry is robust even with the challenge of greater urbanization and with concurrent threats to outlaw traditional falconry and hunting generally by some urban, anti-hunting forces. Second, the falconry community understands its role in the cultural fabric of humanity, which demands that our goal must be to hand this legacy to posterity. Third, falconers provide more than any other group the leadership for conservation efforts to save and restore the birds of prey that we depend on. Because of my background in U.S. falconry and as a founder of The Peregrine Fund, I understood perhaps the third lesson best when in 2006 I became the President of the IAF at our Annual General Meeting in Kearney, Nebraska.
During Patrick Morel’s presidency, we had experienced huge growth in the numbers of member organizations from even more nations. As I considered issues confronting us, I was faced with understanding them in the context of many languages, cultural and social values, political systems, and even religions. And while the Internet seems to make electronic communication instantaneous, I was still eight time zones away at my home in rural New Mexico from most of Europe where a very high percentage of all of my communications were sent. At times it became an almost overwhelmingly difficult task of keeping up with the volume of approximately 50,000 emails that came through to me during my presidential term, even though I was not expected to answer all of them.
The IAF succeeded because I was able to call on a group of dedicated volunteers when faced with international challenges, and also I could rely on the leadership of the member organizations within each nation. Historically the IAF work had been conducted by committees which focused on particular problems. I found that the committees or working groups did not function very well until faced with a special problem, and then only a few people with special knowledge and passion for the problem really went to work. However, the work was always done and the strength of the IAF is that we have some really talented falconers, skilled in so many areas of competence that we succeeded for the most part. My challenge was to manage many simultaneous efforts through six years, and I was blessed to have a highly skilled staff in my law firm at my disposal to do many daily functional tasks. I am so grateful to them, because they gave the IAF the image of a professional organization. All of the volunteers gave huge amounts of time and personal resources to dedicate themselves to serve to represent world falconry. As I report about the major challenges and accomplishments of my six years as President, the successes belong to this worldwide team of volunteers, not to me personally.
Falconry: An Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
For the past two years when I have spoken to groups of falconers around the world, I remind them to never forget the date, November 16, 2010. On that day in Nairobi, Kenya, the UNESCO Committee to Safeguard Intangible Cultural Heritage approved the largest file ever submitted when it recognized falconry as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity. I will never forget the early morning telephone call to me from IAF Vice President, Bohumil Straka, while he was standing on the floor of the meeting hall when it was announced, and the celebration that erupted stopped the proceedings for at least ten minutes. He was there with the entire extended team of the Abu Dhabi Authority of Culture and Heritage. Along with the cultural authorities and falconers leading the effort in each of the submitting nations, these gentlemen brought us to this stunning success. I knew then that falconry as a field sport made the transition into the fabric of culture and society across the world.
The UNESCO planning efforts began more than a decade earlier in Abu Dhabi with the generous support of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, when H.E. Mohamed Al Bowardi convened falconers and historians from many nations to make presentations on the history of falconry in their respective nations. He revealed later, and some of the presenters knew, that it was the dream of the late first President of the UAE, H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may God rest his soul, during the First International Festival of Falconry held in Abu Dhabi in 1978 to have falconry recognized in some special way. At the time no one contemplated the vehicle to be UNESCO, but 32 years later his dream was realized.
The IAF took an indirect route to assist with this most important success. I had succeeded in having the IAF recognized as a UNESCO international advisory non-governmental organization for falconry and conservation in the summer of 2010. When we submitted the application for recognition for this special NGO status in 2008, the IAF, as an organization, was precluded from actively participating in the preparation of the joint submission. However, the leaders of the UNESCO efforts in their respective nations were most often the same people who were delegates or active within the IAF. I personally assisted, in my professional capacity as a lawyer, with the final review of the joint submission in December 2009 to make revisions suggested by UNESCO for final submission in January 2010.
In addition there were publications prepared and public events organized to promote the UNESCO submission. Bohumil Straka and Gary Timbrell, the IAF public relations officer, prepared a booklet, “Falconry is Everywhere,” which provided the reader with an introduction to falconry’s cultural heritage all across the world, even in nations not part of the joint submission. In conjunction with the ADACH work, Dr. Javier Ceballos Aranda authored a large beautifully published book, Falconry-Celebrating A Living Heritage, with the same goal. In the various European nations the submissions included publications or summaries of the national cultural heritage.
The UK Hawk Board, with the generous support of the Emirates Falconers’ Club, hosted two very large international festivals of falconry in England in 2007 and 2009. The IAF held its annual general meeting at the 2009 festival by invitation of our UK member organizations. Falconers and dignitaries came together with the goal of promoting the cultural heritage of falconry in support of the joint submission. There were large events with falconers’ camps and demonstrations of everything related to falconry.
After the UNESCO recognition, the Emirates Falconer’s Club hosted the Second International Festival of Falconry in December 2011 in Al Ain. Falconers from approximately 80 nations joined in celebration of the UNESCO recognition with separate tents, public demonstrations, but most importantly with a conference on many topics related to falconry. The IAF held its annual general meeting with the largest turnout of delegates in IAF history from more than 70 member organizations. We had special keynote addresses to the delegates from H.E. Mohamed Al Bowardi, H.E. Majid Al Mansouri (a member of the IAF Advisory Committee), and Dr. Awadh Al Saleh, a principal representative of ADACH.
With great assistance, cooperation and shared support from FACE, under Executive Director Angus Middleton, Member of European Parliament Mme. Veronique Mathieu hosted the IAF and FACE to a presentation to the European Parliament on the special recognition of falconry by UNESCO in Strasbourg in January 2011. Philippe Justeau, President of our French member association, ANFA, made the formal presentation on behalf of the IAF. Angus Middleton described the importance of the recognition for hunting in general as FACE represents 6 million hunters in Europe. Dr. Awadh Al Saleh wonderfully described ADACH’s important role in the preparation of the joint submission. In an evening reception MEP Mathieu welcomed us warmly. Gilbert du Turckheim, President of FACE, spoke admiringly of what our achievement would do to assist the hunters of Europe. Bernard Loze, President of the CIC, noted the CIC’s early and continuing support of the UNESCO recognition through the CIC’s falconry commission. I concluded with an explanation of the extraordinary importance that cultural heritage recognition would have for the protection of falconry everywhere. Many falconers from all across Europe attended the event. Mme. Mathieu was proud that a photo from this event of a falconer with a bird looking up at the beautiful Parliament building was selected as the 2011 photo of the year for the European Parliament.
In 2012 Mme. Mathieu again invited the IAF and FACE to put on another presentation of falconry as a human heritage at the European Parliament in Brussels. This presentation was to span five days in a very visible area for the Members. For the IAF’s organizing effort, I appointed the “Dream Team” of Gary Timbrell, Chair, Veronique Blontrock and Tony James; they added Patrizia Cimberio whose graphic design skills pulled together the entire presentation superbly. The FACE professionals completed the team. With the dozens of giant posters, presentation of historical falconry artifacts, the live displays, including several falcons (birds had never before been permitted in the Parliament), and Jac van Gerven of the Valkenswaard Falconry Museum making hoods, the effect on the visitors was breath taking. Thousands visited it though the week. Hundreds of people attended the special evening reception hosted by Mme. Mathieu and a Polish MEP. Both of them gave thoughtful presentations about how much the UNESCO recognition meant to their support of traditional field sports in the EU. Even the President of the European Parliament visited us for a few moments. Angus Middleton spoke of the important relationship that FACE developed with the IAF with the expectation that it would continue. I spoke a bit about my years as president and what an important achievement this was for all of us. And I concluded that this event was my final presentation outside of my home country as President of the IAF. I had traveled to Europe four times and twice to the Middle East in 2012 alone.
Through these UNESCO years, Tony Crosswell, Editor, published many articles and accounts on the UNESCO effort in the IAF’s “Journal of International Falconry.” The beautiful 2011 Journal, with an Arab theme, focused principally on the UNESCO recognition as a memorial piece.
As I look back on the public part of my presidency, I was fortunate to be leading the IAF when hundreds of falconers and supporters joined together to mark this achievement as our legacy to all future falconers.
A Plan to Represent Global Falconry
Through most of my first year as President I lead the IAF as the chief executive as had my predecessors. However, unlike them, I had the benefit of my law firm staff to help me. As I saw the global responsibilities mounting for the IAF to represent falconry in so many international meetings, in some conflicts, and with reactive responses to crises in several nations where falconry might be made illegal by national legislation, I recognized that my successors as President could not lead the IAF from a home office. Also, I recognized that the greatest challenges emanated from within the European Union nations with the potential ripple effects across the world from adverse decisions, policies, or recommendations which impacted falconry directly, but most often indirectly. In several parts of the world falconry appears to be strongly embedded in law, policy or national culture, notably the Arabian Gulf nations and North America. But these nations are not immune to adverse changes for falconry in international treaties, conventions and policy-making bodies to which they are signatories, again most often proposed within the EU. We all know that there are very strong organizations working daily to prohibit hunting in all forms. I recognized that the IAF would not meet its responsibilities from a president’s home office.
At the 2007 UK falconry festival I presented to the Advisory Committee the concept of preparing a proposal for a business plan. With the AC’s enthusiastic approval, I prepared a memorandum with major assistance from Jose Manuel Rodriguez-Villa, on the concept of the IAF opening a professional office in Brussels, the seat of the EU. Because the Emirates Falconers’ Club had been such a generous contributor to the IAF, Jose Manuel and I personally visited Abu Dhabi to meet with Mohamed Al Bowardi and Majid Al Mansouri to request modest initial funding to prepare a plan with the assistance of a professional business planning consultant.
With a commitment to assist, Jose Manuel and I prepared an outline of the goals and a strategy for developing a professional business office. At that stage I formed a business plan working group to develop the strategy outline. The group included Ralph Rogers, Bohumil Straka, Gary Timbrell, Patrick Morel, Alex Prinz, Tony Crosswell, Matt Gage, Adrian Lombard, Antonio Carapuco, Bill Johnston, Jose Manuel and me. We prepared several drafts and a request for proposal for potential business consultant bidders. We solicited bids from the United States, Germany, Spain, Belgium and the UK. Ultimately we selected EuroPraxis Consulting of Spain, who bid within the limited funding that we had and really had the best grasp of what we wanted to achieve.
EuroPraxis prepared a first draft of the plan based on our strategy document. With comments for changes by the working group members, EuroPraxis produced a second draft. Then I convened the entire working group in Madrid to meet with the EuroPraxis planners to explain our goals and to refine the plan to achieve what we thought might be possible initially. EuroPraxis then prepared a final plan, still subject to minor changes. It was a visual PowerPoint presentation.
Jesus Gutierrez Baz, the principal EuroPraxis consultant, Jose Manuel and I presented it personally to Mohamed Al Bowardi and Majid Al Mansouri for an initial reaction. That presentation was helpful and very constructive. As a result I prepared a follow-up memorandum to develop further the IAF’s role in conservation, the formation of charitable funding foundations in Europe, the United States and the UAE, and the potential of opening a second office to direct the conservation work and to conduct the charitable fund raising. At a subsequent meeting in Abu Dhabi we had the opportunity to present the newly developed ideas.
I had been reporting to the Council of Delegates at the annual general meetings in 2008 and 2009 our progress to develop the business plan and to receive ideas. Naturally the delegates were most concerned with funding. At our 2010 AGM in Slovakia, I made a very lengthy, formal presentation of the business plan. We had a lively discussion on many points. Until they had seen the PowerPoint presentation some delegates had not recognized the complex problems that the IAF faced in so many international bodies. Particularly Nick Havermann-Mart, the British Falconers’ Club delegate, and Angus Middleton, the FACE Executive Director, who sat in at my invitation, provided very good guidance on business management issues and funding. We also recognized that the IAF Constitution would need to be modified to accommodate a professional office. In the end, the delegates gave us a clear direction to proceed. Of course, my challenge was to secure initial funding.
With Adrian Lombard and Patrick Morel’s review of the IAF Constitution in connection with the changes contemplated by a permanent administrative plan, we prepared amendments to be presented to the Council of Delegates. We drafted new sections permitting the IAF to employ administrative staff and to convert the Advisory Committee function to a corporate board of directors. We revised other parts to make the elections of officers consistent and to provide the completion dates for terms of office. The Vice President for Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania was divided into two vice presidencies, one for Europe and the other to represent Asia, Africa, and Oceania. Even with the suggested changes, the goal was to keep ultimate power in the Council of Delegates, the people who represent the member organizations.
At the December 2011 Al Ain AGM during the Second International Festival of Falconry, I presented the business plan and the amendments to the Constitution for comment and approval. With approximately 70 delegates at the Council meeting, there was no shortage of ideas expressed. Everyone was engaged with the understanding that with approval of both documents the IAF was embarking on a very different path to represent falconry worldwide. With some real enthusiasm generally, the Council adopted both the business plan and the amendments to the Constitution.
Between trips to the Czech Club’s Opocno meet and the German DFO meet in Meerbusch in October 2012, I made a one day trip to Abu Dhabi to meet Mohamed Al Bowardi and Majid Al Mansouri to answer any final questions on the business plan. We agreed that I would complete a final written summary of the business plan with all suggested changes and a summary of benefits for the member organizations. Then they gave me the magnificent assurance that the Emirates Falconers’ Club would support the IAF generally, the business plan and commit to the initial funding of the new office in Brussels. Also in October 2012, the Belgian national authorities accepted the amended Constitution formally.
For me personally, I am gratified that the IAF can look forward to a greater ability to meet the needs of the member organizations and to proceed to represent falconry worldwide on a proactive, rather than a reactive, basis. My vision was to provide the future leadership of the IAF with a level of support that we could not envision a few years ago.
Christian De Coune, with focused determination, represented the IAF in many international bodies through his long term as President, through Patrick Morel’s term, and into the initial years of my presidency. He established our early relationships to make the world bodies aware of falconry and our need to be recognized.
The Advisory Committee and the Council of Delegates were always aware of the IAF’s presence at the international bodies, but notwithstanding our reports in the IAF Journal and the earlier Newsletters, I may have failed to alert the world falconry community of the tireless effort of the IAF’s participation in larger international affairs. And this, of course, is the fundamental basis for which the IAF was formed more than 45 years ago. It was not founded to deal just with the internal falconry issues in each nation.
There is a substantial amount of international law, in the form of statutory law, international treaty conventions and international case law that have major influence on falconry. Besides CITES and UNESCO, there is the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS recently made a major decision on the saker falcon), the Raptors Memorandum of Understanding, flowing from the CMS (the IAF became the only falconry signatory to the Raptors MOU in December 2011, in al Ain); the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD); the European Union’s Bird Directive; the migratory bird treaties between and among Great Britain, Canada, the United States, Russia, Mexico, and Japan; IUCN (the IAF is the only falconry member organization); the Bern Convention; and, the case law interpretation of the European Court of Justice on the EU Bird Directive. During my presidency, the IAF has been monitoring and attending the meetings of all of those bodies, because by resolution or mandate, falconry has been implicated.
Just during my term, the IAF has intervened directly in the formation of law to permit falconry in national legislation in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Denmark, Slovenia, Estonia, Sweden, and at the administrative law level in Austria, Turkey, South Africa, Mexico, Canada and the United States. Further, the IAF has intervened with the invitation of our member organizations in national law issues in North America and across Europe, and in one instance the IAF even retained counsel to intervene in an appeal from Sweden, where falconry is not yet legal, to the European Court of Justice in a case of a falconer importing Harris’s hawks to use them in falconry without authorization; the implications from this case, if the appeal had been lost, would have had severe, crippling ramifications on falconry all across Europe. My decision to intervene and pay the costs in the Swedish case was perhaps the most distasteful action I had to take as President.
As I expressed at the 2011 AGM in Al Ain, the IAF is beginning to reorganize efforts to down list the peregrine falcon and the gyrfalcon from CITES Appendix I to Appendix II. Furthermore, the IAF has joined with FACE and the CIC to support resolutions advocating sustainable use of wildlife resources at CITES, the CBD (Nagoya, Japan), the CMS (Bergen, Norway) and at IUCN. To support national and international legal efforts, the IAF continues to assemble a documents bank for use by our member organizations. We anticipate that the IAF will be involved at even more international events to protect falconry’s position as a legal means of hunting.
With incredible willingness to give their time, I have expanded the number of IAF representatives at the international bodies. Janusz Sielicki (Poland) has attended many events in Europe and the Middle East; Dr. Matt Gage intervened for us at specialist group meetings; Adrian Reuter (Mexico) assisted us in CITES; Bohumil Straka (Czech Republic) attended various official and specialty meetings; Patrick Morel (Belgium) represented us in European hunting organizations and at UNESCO events; Bill Heinrich (from The Peregrine Fund, USA) represented us twice at events in Japan, including the CBD conference; Adrian Lombard (South Africa) represented us at international meetings in Africa; and Keiya Nakajima (Japan) represented the IAF at several international events in Japan and at the recent IUCN Conference in South Korea. And in many instances we have had additional support from Angus Middleton and Yves Lecoq of FACE, and from Tamas Marghescu and Kristof Hoecker of CIC by coordinating to promote mutual goals. I salute all of them, because together they made the IAF a credible and effective presence on the world stage of international conservation and culture.
The Member Organizations
From the approximately 50 member organizations from 45 nations, the IAF has grown to approximately 82 member organizations and associations from 56 nations. Each year we have more applicants and the screening process becomes increasingly rigorous. The IAF represents approximately 40,000 falconers worldwide. If we can organize Chinese falconers that number is likely to double. It pleases me particularly that we expanded our membership in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and central Asia. Perhaps the most eager and well-developed new member organizations joined us from Qatar and Pakistan, and they are already providing leadership on IAF projects.
The future success of the IAF will largely depend on our joint communications effort to deliver our message effectively and sometimes discretely to the recipient audience. For the larger falconry community we changed the format of periodic Newsletters to the “Journal of International Falconry.” Tony Crosswell creatively and expertly edits this magnificent publication annually, laid out beautifully by his daughter, Tanya Betts, to produce a magazine that is worthy of collecting. It is always impressive, and with the support of our Polish printer, organized by Janusz Sielicki, we offer news of the world falconry community in an incredibly beautiful publication.
Gary Timbrell developed our periodic eNewsletter for email distribution to our delegates and a broader audience worldwide. It permitted me to focus on various topics through the years. It provided an opportunity to celebrate successes, make announcements, and to alert the selected falconry community with current news.
Two years ago, we became aware that the very desirable domain name, “iaf.org,” would be offered at auction. With the approval of the AC, Bohumil Straka and I, on a Skype telephone link, stayed connected for an amusing auction that took place over a couple of hours. You can imagine the number of organizations that could use the domain name, from the Irish Art Fund to the Israeli or Indian Air Force; so many organizations have the same acronym. At the end of two hours of bidding, our final rival for the last hour gave up with our last bid. I had authorized a bid almost twice what my original limit was. Even so, the cost is now forgotten, but the value of the intellectual property is immeasurable when the world does a Goggle search for “falconry.”
Our website was hosted for several years in the Czech Republic under the guidance of Bohumil Straka. Because of the relatively small size of the server it had limitations, and we did not have a dedicated web master who was removing old material and posting new announcements regularly. We shifted the website to one of the huge international webhosts to be able to handle all of the IAF communications, including the development of huge world database of falconers. Just at the end of my term, a total revamp of the website was begun by Gary Timbrell and Patrizia Cimberio. That effort is being completed under Adrian Lombard and is now online.
At my request, Dan Cecchini and Pete Rodas, both from the United States and part of the NAFA leadership, developed the format for our international database to be embedded on our website. With it we can have all contact information for everyone associated with the IAF and for all other falconers who wish to have IAF connections. It will also provide secure database storage for any member organization that wishes to use it for its own club purposes.
The Women’s Working Group
During my presidency I appointed quite a few ad hoc committees or working groups to tackle important internal and external issues. Five well known women falconers, each leaders in their respective countries, approached me in 2011 about forming a women’s working group to assist with attracting and integrating new women falconers into the IAF and their national associations. The original five were Dianne Moller and Lauren McGough of the United States, Elisabeth Leix of Germany, Tula Stapert of Holland and Veronique Blontrock of Belgium. Unlike the ad hoc groups where I charged the members with a task, the ladies came with a plan of action. Dianne Moller presented it to the Council of Delegates in Al Ain in 2011. After I asked for additional development of the plan, which they completed during a meeting in Doha, Qatar, I appointed an expanded Women’s Working Group in the spring of 2012.
Even with Council backing I gave this appointment a lot of special thought. I was quietly criticized by a number of people in the world falconry community that this move served to divide men and women when in fact women were already well integrated into the IAF and were leaders in their respective national associations. I appointed the group first because in many European nations and North America, the largest increases in active falconers are women. In other parts of the IAF world that is not the case, so a WWG tells the women that they too are welcome in this falconry world, which to them largely seems to be male. Second, it was my goal to have women step into IAF leadership roles and the WWG provides a springboard for that. The IAF has increased in size by 50% during my presidency, and it will continue to grow as nations and member organizations within those nations seek to become IAF members. The WWG provides those new member organizations with a contact group of women as an attraction and further justification for membership in the IAF. Those nations can reach out to women to become falconers by saying that we have women contacts in the IAF who can help. Third, I appointed the WWG because like their national clubs, the IAF is a volunteer organization, and women work; they work hard in their national clubs, so I wanted a group of hard working, talented women working for the IAF. These ladies and others who follow will be part of the future IAF leadership.
The IAF Leadership
The senior leadership of the IAF historically was exclusively European. I was able to expand it to three continents. Jose Manuel Rodriguez-Villa and Bohumil Straka served Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania as Vice President. We have now broken this region into two vice presidencies. Bill Johnston succeeded me as Vice President for the Americas. He then handed it over to Ralph Rogers who has done incredible work reaching out to the countries of Central and South America. He is assisting in the arrangements for our first annual general meeting in Argentina.
Tony Crosswell continued as Executive Secretary from Patrick Morel’s presidency into mine. However, later he favored doing the Newsletters and the Journal, a really big job in a volunteer organization. Adrian Lombard accepted my appointment as Executive Secretary, and like his predecessor, he performed it magnificently, and actually added additional obligations for himself. Antonio Carapuco has been great as treasurer through two presidencies providing us with detailed reports and statements.
I suggested Gary Timbrell for our first Advisory Committee chairman, while at the same time he acted as our public relations officer. When he chose to fill that PRO role fulltime, I enlisted Alex Prinz to serve as chairman through the remainder of my term. Jevgeni Shergalin served my entire term as our public information officer bringing to our attention the important news on falconry gleaned from all of his sources. Dr. Matthew Gage served as our chief scientist; he prepared our positions on many of our most important responses to some difficult scientific challenges.
It is not as difficult to be President of an organization as large as the IAF when you have this talented pool of leaders and including many others already mentioned, and literally dozens of other not mentioned. The IAF was an expertly, professionally operated organization during these years. At all times this group of people represented us and produced results with a level of integrity and professionalism beyond compare. I express my gratitude to them and all the volunteers for bringing the IAF such great success during my presidency.
Often the strength of an organization can be measured by the passion of those who want to serve in leadership roles. At the 2012 AGM in Kearney, the presidency and the two vice presidencies up for election were strongly contested. There is no doubt that the IAF continues in good hands.
The IAF and its member organizations will always face those people in our society who are determined to undermine the rural way of life, traditional hunting, and generally any human intervention with wildlife. Their attitude comes down to: “hands off wildlife.” Yet it is the hunters who are the leaders of wildlife conservation and the falconers who are the essential leaders of all raptor conservation programs, with some few exceptions. We will continue to face an urban population, which does not try to understand us. For that reason we falconers must form coalitions with other like-minded organization to protect and perpetuate falconry.
In the more immediate term, we face the implications of an agenda set by legislators, government regulators and environmentalists who pursue a ban on invasive alien species, without a full understanding of the complex natural web. We see this in Europe particularly where invasive alien species are determined by some to be the scourge, when in some cases, invasive alien species are the “straw man” to change certain agricultural practices, natural lands management, and traditional field activities, like falconry. This issue alone may be the single greatest near term threat to falconry. It is not limited to Europe but can be found in North America and Southern Africa.
There are other steps the IAF can take to pursue greater opportunity for falconers. At CITES, we can prepare and seek a down listing of the peregrine falcon and gyrfalcon from Appendix I to Appendix II. While the down listings will not significantly ease access to these species for falconry, it nevertheless shows us to be monitoring the biological integrity of these international listings. Too often species are listed for political concerns rather than based on good science. In the case of peregrines, some member organizations are pursing a limited harvest of wild peregrines where current populations far exceed historical populations. The successful policy to harvest wild peregrines in the United States may serve as a beacon.
To the chagrin of some people who have heard me speak publicly, I say the IAF is not a social club but an international political organization. For almost any challenge we face, international and national bodies often formed by government confront us with challenges that impact falconry and the conservation of birds of prey in some way. It takes political understanding and strength for IAF leaders to be successful. We come from all walks of life, with varying experiences, but by representing the IAF you enter that political world.
The IAF is doing very well, but we remain challenged to preserve falconry in an increasingly urban world. We are challenged to fund our projects, but with so many talented volunteers who give their time and resources, the IAF will continue to be successful.
At this historical time for world falconry, I am grateful and very honored to have been the IAF President and to have enjoyed your support. I have had critics from the day I became president and others who have questioned some decisions or policies from time to time. We do not produce a better product or result without constructive criticism, so I am grateful to my critics as well for causing me to pause, to rethink my decisions. Clearly, this experience was one of the most important challenges and periods of my life. We all love falconry equally; it is not a hobby but a way of life. We each seek in our own way to protect falconry and the birds of prey we love. Our memorial shall be the legacy we leave for posterity by the development of a persuasive, respected and powerful IAF. The IAF is the only international falconry organization fully capable of representing the interests of falconry worldwide. I thank the international community of falconers for allowing me to participate with you to achieve those goals.
By Keiya Nakajima, The Japan Falconiformes Center
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is the largest organization for the conservation of environment in the world. Total members as of 2012 are 1,272 organizations from countries, government agencies, NGOs and affiliates with 11,000 scientific experts, 1,000 staff from more than 181 countries. IAF is also privileged to be a member as an international NGO.
IUCN has various conservation programs around the world to deal with challenges such as recovery of the environment, coexistence with development, endangered species, sustainable use of wild resources and preservation of biodiversity. The World Conservation Congress (WCC) is most the important IUCN meeting with all members knowing the result of activities, to decide future programs, to discuss motions and to elect the council members. It is held every four years since 1996 with assemblies, forums, workshops, poster presentations and exhibition. Sometimes, this large meeting is introduced as the “Nature Olympic”. 5th IUCN WCC was held at Jeju island in Republic of Korea on 6-15 September 2012 with approximately 10,000 participants and over 650 events. Theme of WCC 2012 was “Nature +”. It captures the fundamental importance of nature and its inherent link to every aspect of our lives.
My initial attendance of the congress was as a member of European Sustainable Use Specialist Group in IUCN Species Survival Commission, the Republic of Korea being a neighboring country to my home in Japan, this being a good opportunity to see various conservation activities in the world. Later my status in the congress was changed to delegate of IAF with voting power at the request of IAF president Frank Bond. International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) and Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation of the EU (FACE) is also member of IUCN, and we have cooperated to vote for the elections and motions for our common benefits.
There were many events and documents in the WCC. Their details are introduced on the website of WCC 2012 (http://www.iucnworldconservationcongress.org/). So, I would like to report only basic points and related matters to IAF as follows.
Conservation programs in IUCN
IUCN have promoted various activities for 2009-2012 on the five program areas that are Conserving biodiversity, Changing the climate forecast, Naturally energizing the future, Managing ecosystems for human well-being and Greening the world economy. 685 publications were also produced for 2008-2012. IUCN will promote or improve the activities for the next four years under the IUCN program framework 2013-2016 that Valuing and conserving nature, Effective and equitable governance of nature’s use and Deploying nature-based solutions to global challenges in climate, food and development.
IUCN activities related to falconry and birds of prey
Species Survival Commission (SSC)
There are six commissions in IUCN. SSC is largest one with more than 120 specialist groups, 8,050 members from 173 countries. Falconry is related to the sustainable use of wildlife. The Sustainable Use Specialist Group is also one of group in SSC, and the chair of European Sustainable Use Specialist Group is Prof. Robert Kenward who is former Advisory Committee member of IAF.
SSC had commissioned a meeting at WCC for the report of the activities and the introduction of the plans for next four years. Making of the list for the threatened species (Red List) is one of the well known works by SSC. In the report, the situation of birds was not changed, but the condition of coral was changed for the worse. Birds of prey (Order Falconiformes, total 311 species) are mentioned in the Red List 2012 as 2 species of Extinct (Guadalupe Caracara and Reunion Kestrel), 11 species of Critically Endangered (e.g. California Condor, Philippine Eagle), 7 species of Endangered (e.g. Crowned Eagle, Egyptian Vulture), 32 species of Vulnerable (e.g. Imperial Eagle, Saker Falcon), 38 species of Near Threatened (e.g. Harpy Eagle, Laggar Falcon), 1 species of Data Deficient (Chestnut-shouldered Goshawk) and 220 species of Least Concern. Almost all falconry birds are included in the category of Least Concern that is not come under another categories. But, it is a classification by severe guideline. For example, the category of “Endangered” include the species such as Giant panda or Tiger that are facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild, and subspecies are not considered for the classification. Therefore, Least Concern does not mean common species without any problem. Actually, various falconry birds are still mentioned in the related laws or regulations as threatened species.
Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group (SULi)
SULi was launched officially at the WCC 2012. It is a cooperation project with members of SSC and Commission on Environmental Economic and Social Policy (CEESP) that is another commission in IUCN. The first chair of SULi is Dr. Rosie Cooney who is specialist of ecology and biodiversity/environmental policy (Fig. 6). The works of SULi include subjects on “The importance of wild species for providing community benefits”, “Analyzing and communicating best-practice in aspects of sustainable use”, “Promoting innovation in adaptive responses to the challenges of sustainable use” and “Developing practical tools and approaches to support sustainability and resilience in resource use”. Further information is announced on the website of SULi (http://www.iucn.org/SULi).
A SULi workshop was held at the WCC with the title “Re-developing IUCN’s work on Sustainable Use”, and Prof. Robert Kenward had a presentation in the workshop to introduce significant policy (Fig. 7). I have joined to SULi, because I consider it is an important matter to maintain the sustainable use of wildlife. CIC also had relationship to SULi, because hunting and conservation of wildlife is relevant to SULi works. Falconry also will be a good example for the suitable activities on the “sustainable use and livelihood” with culture and history in each country.
Motions related to hunting
Total 183 motions were voted in WCC 2012. And, 182 motions were adopted or adopted with amendments after the discussion in the members’ assembly. Another 1 motion for the conservation of hammerhead sharks was not adopted as scheduled for plenary. All contents are shown on the website of WCC 2012. IAF did not prepare the motion for our benefits, but CIC and FACE have applied motions that are related to hunting and sustainable use of wildlife as follows. M### means motion ID at the WCC 2012. The word of “falconry” was not mentioned in all motions.
M151 Respecting ecologically sustainable use of abundant biological resources
Fur Institute of Canada was sponsor of the motion. CIC and FACE was included in co-sponsor.
M155 Collaborative Partnership on Wildlife
CIC was the sponsor of the motion, and FACE was one of co-sponsor. Sentence regarding SULi was also included in this motion. This motion is related to the document UNEP/CBD/COP/11/29 “Report on Options for the Development of a Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management” on 11th Conference of Parties for the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP11-CBD) at Hyderabad, India on October 2012.
M166 ECOLEX – the gateway to environmental law
CIC was one of co-sponsor of this motion. ECOLEX is an information service on environmental law. It is operated jointly by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and IUCN.
M168 African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
International Council of Environmental Law (ICEL) was sponsor of the motion. CIC was included in co-sponsor.
M033 (Combating the illegal or unsustainable capture, trade or killing of migratory birds in the Mediterranean) was applied by Sociedad Española de Ornitología (SEO/BirdLife). In the motion, hunting was mentioned as related matter. But, CIC and FACE did not support as co-sponsor.
Election of Council members
Council members for the next four years were elected at this assembly. Tamás Marghescu, CIC Director General was candidate of Regional Councillor for East Europe, North and Central Asia. IAF supported him on the election. But, it was not enough to get success. Results of elections were as follows: Details of each person are also introduced on the website.
During the last day of WCC, the Jeju Declaration was published with 19 items as “Towards a New Era of Conservation, Sustainability and Nature-based Solutions” by the IUCN President, the Minister of Environment of the Republic of Korea, the Governor of Jeju Special Self-Governing Province and the Chairman of the Korean Organizing Committee. The content of 19 items is introduced on the website of WCC 2012.
Finally, it was great honor for me to attend to IUCN WCC 2012 as delegate of IAF. I am deeply grateful to everybody for the opportunity.
By Janusz Sielicki, email@example.com
The International Conservation Conventions are very important for Falconry. There are four main ones – the Big Four:
– CITES - Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. This convention is well known to all of us because of the CITES certificates necessary to buy a bird of prey in most of countries
- CBD – Convention on Biodiversity – This Convention has the object of developing national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. It is the key document regarding sustainable development
- CMS - Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (also known as the Bonn Convention) aims to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their ranges under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
- Bern Convention - whose aims are to conserve wild flora and fauna and their natural habitats and to promote European co-operation in that field. This convention covers Europe and part of Africa.
For Falconry, the CITES and CMS are crucial on the global level. CITES is well known, while the CMS is now very active and can influence Falconry by promoting stricter protection measures for some birds of prey species which are important for Falconry.
Migratory species threatened with extinction are listed on Appendix I of the CMS.
Migratory species that need or would significantly benefit from international co-operation are listed in Appendix II.
CMS Parties strive towards strictly protecting migratory animals, conserving or restoring the places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them. The CMS acts as a framework Convention. Several Agreements and several Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) have been concluded to date under the auspices of the CMS. One of these is the UNEP/CMS Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (also known as the Raptors MoU) with more than 40 Signatories and 3 Co-operating Partners, including IAF.
The overall aim of the Raptors MoU is to promote internationally coordinated actions to achieve and maintain the favourable conservation status of migratory birds of prey throughout their range in the African-Eurasian region, and to reverse their decline.
The Saker is important for traditional Falconry in Central Asia and Arab countries. The Mongolian sustainable use project is a flagship of conservation through wild-take. There was a plan to decide about uplisting Saker to Appendix I at the Bergen Conference of CMS Parties in 2011. The Saker Falcon is endangered on its whole range, with many threats which include electrocution, poisoning, habitat changes and illegal wild-take and illegal trade. The Falconry community is very concerned about the future of the Saker populations, as they were in conection with the Peregrine Falcon previously. The uplisting of the Saker to CMS Appendix 1 was seen by IAF as merely an administrative decision, lacking any real effect on the conservation of the species. There have been many similar cases. The IAF informed all national delegates about our concerns. These included the fact that uplisting does not solve the problem, that there is a need for action to help the Saker survive, that there is a necessity for serious research on the status of the Saker and an immediate start of serious conservation efforts. The IAF, FACE and CIC issued a joint statement covering a few additional issues. The CMS COP decided to create the Saker Working Group (SWG) to find a compromise. The SWG conducted 7 meetings, with 38 members, representing both State delegates and NGO’s. The IAF, CIC and FACE took part. During the discussion, many elements raised in the IAF statement were used and discussed. The original proposal by the EU was quite offensive and opposed to falconry, saying it was one of the main threats to Saker through illegal trapping and illegal trade. As the IAF representative, I made a statement that illegal activities are not falconry and that falconers support Saker conservation worldwide. We appealed to all interested parties to find a consensus to save the Saker falcon. In our letter to Delegates it was emphasized that uplisting is not a solution of itself, instead a Global Action Plan for the Saker is necessary and urgently required. As the IAF representative, I took part in the preparations of the first draft of the SWG statement, which later was transformed into the Resolution of the COP10. An appreciation for the Mongolian conservation project, based on the sustainable use principle, leaves an open door for future sustainable use projects. This is now included in the final document. The Resolution does not lay blame on any simplistic reason for the decline of Saker populations, and it includes appreciation of work done so far by the governments of UAE and Saudi Arabia. It acknowledges that some states do not find the uplisting to Appendix 1 necessary, but that they have decided to join a common efforts to conserve the species. A Task Force will be immediately created for Concerned Action under CMS Raptors MoU leadership with a detailed timeline for the first 3 years. The Saker resolution is a very positive example of cooperation of all parties which have agreed to make all possible efforts to save the Saker, sacrificing their different approaches for a common goal. Within the resolution, the door is open for the possibility to downlist the Saker population in certain countries if acknowledgeable improvement in the population status is achieved. The possibility exists,as well, for other sustainable use programs like that of Mongolia. The most important outcome of the resolution is the creation of the Saker Task Force which has the aim to create a Global Action Plan.
In December 2012, in Al Ain, the IAF signed the UNEP/CMS Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MoU) and joined it as a Co-operating Partner. An Action Plan is included in the text of the Raptors MoU with three key objectives:
- To halt and reverse the population declines of globally threatened (Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable) and Near Threatened birds of prey and to alleviate threats to them such that they are no longer globally threatened or Near Threatened;
- To halt and reverse the population declines of other birds of prey with an Unfavourable Conservation Status within Africa and Eurasia and alleviate threats in order to return their populations to Favourable Conservation Status;
- To anticipate, reduce and avoid potential and new threats to all bird of prey species, especially to prevent the populations of any species undergoing long-term decline.
The 1st Meeting of the Saker Task Force was held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) on 29 March 2012 with twenty seven participants, including myself (Janusz Sielicki) as the IAF representative. The Participants formulated and agreed on 46 Action Points aimed at preparing a Saker Global Action Plan (SakerGAP). A number of the Working Group members will work on separate objectives. As the IAF representative I did my best to put falconry in positive light, to be involved in all working groups which are important for falconry and to avoid any statements negative to falconry in official documents.
The next important issue of the CMS was the First Meeting of Signatories of Raptors MoU on 9-11 December 2012 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where I, once again, represented the IAF. Delegates visited the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital where they could see the exhibition about falconry and conservation of Houbara bustards and falcons.
Key Outcomes of the Meeting, important for the IAF, were:
- The Coordinating Unit (CU) for the Raptors MoU will be established within the UNEP/CMS Office in Abu Dhabi
- A Technical Advisory Group (TAG) will be established to support implementation of the Raptors MoU
- The meeting clarified the role and responsibilities of Cooperating Partners, which includes the IAF
- The meeting endorsed the CMS Resolution on Power Lines and Migratory Birds and urged Signatories and encouraged non-Signatory Range States to utilize the mitigation Guidelines and other measures set out in the Resolution
- Basic principles and a schedule for National Reporting on implementation of the Raptors MoU were agreed
The IAF was well presented at the meeting. With help of the IAF PR Officer, I prepared two side events about Falconry and Conservation: A 30-minutes presentation with following discussion and a set of 8 posters which were presented in the lobby where the Meeting was held from the first day till the end. In addition, delegates were given a brochure on the same subject.
The next step of the Saker GAP is the creation of four Working Groups. These will be tasked 1)to review relevant international policies & legislation, 2)to conduct a knowledge gap analysis, 3)to examine sustainable use and 4)to plan and implement fieldwork. As the IAF representative, I acted to avoid negative mention of falconry in the tasks of Working Groups and to highlight the involvement of falconers in Saker conservation as well promoting sustainable use as a tool for conservation.
The IAF will continue to be active in Saker Conservation and seek cooperation with international conservation conventions.
By Christopher Reed
Falconry is the hunting of wild quarry using a trained bird of prey. Its practice and art may have begun in Mesopotamia four thousand years ago. Evidence suggests the sport was introduced into Japan by a Korean courtier in A.D. 359, to be enthusiastically developed by emperors, nobles, and members of the samurai class. Several families established their own schools of falconry around the fourteenth century, according to Kuniko McVey, librarian for the Japanese collection at Harvard-Yenching Library, and the teachings of the falconers were transmitted through notes for generations.
The library holds 11 Japanese books on falconry produced before 1800, all but one of them manuscripts, among its 1.3 million texts. Four of the works once belonged to Matsudaira Sadanobu (1759-1829), a chief senior councilor of the Tokugawa shogunate, and include the two pages reproduced here. They were copied then from manuscripts attributed to Jimyoin Motoharu, a celebrated calligrapher and a member of the Jimyoin falconry school, who made his copies in 1506. One manuscript is a copy of a text that had itself been copied in 1328, thus showing, says McVey, how this specialized knowledge was transmitted privately within a family of falconry experts for generations.
Falconers also use birds other than falcons. Jeremiah Trimble, curatorial associate inornithology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, guesses these two are meant to be Hodgson’s Hawk-eagles.
They were most recently sighted during “Take Note,” a two-day conference in November at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The conference concluded a four year initiative to explore the history and future of the book. The study of notes is intimately connected to the study of reading, a field newly poignant, as a report on the institute’s website points out, because “the rise of digital technology has made the encounter between book and reader seem more fragile and ghostly than ever.” Links to all the conference presentations may be found on this magazine’s website, and a link as well to an online exhibition of 73 note-related items from Harvard collections, ranging from these feathered friends to a second-century price list written on a potsherd, to a seventeenth-century German engraving of a “note-closet,” in which slips of paper could be hung on hooks corresponding to up to 3,000 alphabetized headings.