Falconry, the hunting of small animals by using trained falcons, is an ancient Arab tradition; there is an evidence of this sport being practiced in Middle East as far back as the eighth century. Over the years, the techniques of training and catching small animals by falcons have become major as part of desert life. In the UAE, falconry has been a hobby for nationals, especially the bedouinees. This sport is not only enjoyed by wealthy nationals, but also by the ordinary people. Both wealthy and ordinary people have their own preferred equipment and falcon species when practicing falconry.
For example, ordinary people usually hunt with a bird called Shaheen whose cost ranges between 1500 to 5000 DHS. On the other hand, the wealthy people hunt with a female species from the ALSaqer species called ALHur. These kinds of birds are very strong, patient and professional hunters, which is not strange to find its cost ranges between 100,000 to 500,000 DHS. Although falconry is different between the rich and the poor, past and the present, it is even now the most interesting hobby among the nationals all the times. However there are some differences between the past and the present falconry to be mentioned in this report.
Falconry in the Past
Falconry in the past was not only used for entertainment, but it was used also for different goals that help our grandparents to avoid starvation and endure their difficult living condition. Our grandfathers used to hunt on the Arabian Gulf area because they traveled a lot on this region to migrate from on place to another. On their trips, our grandfathers and parents used falconry to find a food for them and for their families (by eating the hunted animals). Also they used falconry to sell the hunted animals to ensure they had money to trade in food and other goods. This explains why, in the past, people hurried to put the injured hunted animals in a pit and cover it in sand to avoid the falcons from eating it. Moreover, the past national traded their different kinds of falcons. There are some families of falcons which are very expensive and some other families which range between the middle to low costs. However, the strength of the bird and its ability to hunt usually raise the value of the bird.
Falconry in the present
Now days, the purpose of falconry has changed. According to Mohamed AL-Ameri (a hunter and falcon shop owner),” Hunters these days are still use the same technique our grandfathers used to hunt in the past, but their purpose has changed from the past”. As previously mentioned, falconry was used on the past mainly to guarantee the hunters food. These days hunters are using falconry as a sport without thinking of eating the hunted animals. Also AL-Ameri described the fun and the challenging spirit between the hunters during the falconry trip, traditionally called ALMignass. He said that “the best hunter, ALGannees, was given more respect.
That is why each hunter tries to do his best to find this respect”. ALAmeri added falconry is not use only for entertainment; they also use it in trading. For example, in his own shop some times he earns more than 500,000 DHS especially on the hunting season from last September to first of February. ALAmeri furthered that presently the hunting areas were changing, now a days they hunt on Pakistan, Afghanistan and Syria because of the shortage on the prey numbers in the UAE. One more reason is that UAE government has do efforts, which banned hunting on some period of the year and some places to save hunted species from the extinction, especially ALHubara bird.
Practices and benefits
Despite the difference between falconry on the past and present, there are some common belongings between both of these tow period. Hunting by using falcons give the hunter fun, enjoyment and some inspirations that each one of us hope to have. First of all we learn the courage from the falcons when he attacked his prey. Secondly, falconry helps the hunter to be more patience and endurance among ALMignass trip, because hunter will face even bad weather or waiting along time until he find a prey to hunt.
Next hunter would gain the group work life in the reason that most of the falconry trips are in groups. Defiantly all of these advantages would be so useful and very good habits would help the hunter on his own life. Lastly, we should continue this type of tradition to appreciate how hard our grandfathers and parents live condition. Also to know and thanks God about the luxury our life is. In short, this point could be summarized on his highness Sheikh Zayed predicament “He who doesn’t have past, doesn’t have a present or future”.