If, during your time at the EEF or another Roscongress event, you should happen upon a representative from the monarchies of the Persian Gulf and ask their opinion of Russia, it is likely that their answer will include a reference to Kamchatka. Arabs particular fondness for this Far Eastern region stems from its local fauna, which is associated with many legends in the Middle East. The Russian falcon, which can be found on the Kamchatka Peninsula and other territories in Russias arctic and subarctic zones, typically plays a key role in these legends.
Birds of the family Falconidae are of great emotional significance to the peoples native to the Persian Gulf. Arabs consider falconry to be integral to their way of life and the sport has been popular there for centuries. The UAE typically occupies leading positions in the Middle Eastern hunting raptor market. Thats why one of the worlds largest legal falcon auctions operates at a bird propagation and preservation centre in Dubai. The administration of the Emirate of Dubai spends approximately USD 200 million per year on acquiring falcons. Similar falcon auctions can be found in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Iraq. Members of the political and business elite in these countries regularly take part in large-scale hunts using these birds. The hunting season typically starts in October and ends in February. Hunting locations are determined by range of the hunts primary prey birds of the family Otididae which inhabit the steppe and semidesert regions of Eurasia, the Middle East, and North Africa. The number of participants in the hunt, including service personnel, can exceed one thousand people and no fewer than 150 trained falcons. Moreover, the UAE and Saudi Arabia hold regular international team competitions for falcon breeders and handlers, which draw over 15,000 audience members and participants.
The Muras centre in Kyrgyzstan was chosen as a model for the Kamchatkan project
The primary range of the most valuable and rare member of the falcon species the gyrfalcon is located within Russias arctic and subarctic zones. In the Arab world, it is considered the ideal falcon. The gyrfalcon is known for its light-coloured feathers, large size, unparalleled flight speed (up to 100 m/s), intelligence, and trainability. Meanwhile, international scientific circles recommend jumpstarting the implementation of already existing Russian falcon preservation programmes, especially those targeting the gyrfalcon. One of the most effective ways of restoring the gyrfalcon population in Russia is introducing birds raised in captivity to the wild. As a result, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation and the UAE Government are supporting the creation of the first ornithological centre in the Russian Far East the Kamchatka Russian Falcon Centre. As part of this project, the administration of Dubai plans to transfer some of the falcons from the Muras Hunting Birds Rehabilitation and Reproduction Centre in the Kyrgyz Republic, established in 2017, to the new breeding facility in Kamchatka. Muras is a CITES-accredited Russian-Kyrgyz joint venture. The group of specialists working with the Muras Centre is ready and willing to participate in the creation of a similar facility in Kamchatka.
For now, the Kamchatka Russian Falcon Centre only exists as a blueprint. But it wont be long before the first gyrfalcon soars into the Far Eastern sky from here
The propagation facility aims to introduce one thousand birds a year, part of which will be released into the wild. The first round of investment from private Russian and UAE investors is planned to be USD 230 million. This is enough to launch the centre and transfer 300 falcons. The investment programme will be expanded in the future. According to experts, the creation of a hunting raptor centre in Kamchatka will accelerate the process of restoring the local population of gyrfalcons and create the necessary conditions for legalizing the trade of these birds, effectively counteracting poachers. At the same time, the successful implementation of this project will facilitate the development of multilateral cooperation and cooperative ties with Middle Eastern countries. It is expected that the opening of the Kamchatka Centre under the patronage of the UAE will evoke the interest of leaders in other countries in the Persian Gulf in creating similar institutions. This should create favourable conditions for the development of a network of hunting raptor propagation facilities in the Russian Far East, resulting in an influx of large foreign investments in the development of local tourism and transport infrastructure.