Power and might
Falconry holds a special place in the life of the Persian Gulf monarchies. It is there that the tradition, rooted in pre-Islamic times, is most vigorously developed today. Earliest accounts can be found on a bas-relief of Sargon II, an Assyrian king, who ruled in 722705 B.C. Crusaders made falconry trendy in Europe, while the first hunting birds appeared in Ancient Rus as early as in the 9th century.
Falcon is a symbol of power and might. In the Middle Eastern countries, it can often be found on logos, banknotes, and postage stamps. Falconry is popular in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. For instance, Abu Dhabi can boast a specialized falcon hospital, as well as a falconry centre with a bazaar and a museum dedicated to this type of hunting.
The falcon is considered to be the fastest creature on Earth: peregrine falcons top speed exceeds 300 km/h. It cleaves the sky like a razor or rather a sickle since its wings are sickle shaped. Moreover, the Latin designation of these birds derives from the Latin word falx, which actually means a sickle.
The three most valuable species of game birds are the Saker Falcon, the Peregrine Falcon, and the White Gyrfalcon, the latter being the largest member of the falcon family and the most expensive one. It is found in Kamchatka and Siberia, and the price for such bird in the Middle Eastern countries may reach 1.5 million dirhams (about USD 411 thousand). In addition to its regal snow-white plumage, this falcon is noted for its intelligence and good learning abilities, which is extremely important for a hunting bird.
The wealthy residents of the Persian Gulf monarchies avidly bid for these falcons at auctions and are prepared to lay out a fortune for the rarest specimens.
Falconers especially value birds that have been caught in the wild and then trained to hunt. Such training is an incredibly labour-intensive process, which largely determines the price of these birds.
Treasure of the Far East
Today, the markets are teeming with mixed breed falcons from Australia, Great Britain, Germany and Pakistan, while finding a purebred bird is a difficult task. With this in mind, an agreement to create the International Falconry Centre in the Kamchatka advanced development territory was signed in 2020. The centre will aim to improve the quality of the breed, increase falcon population, and preserve the rarest breeds of hunting birds. The preparatory work for the agreement was undertaken by specialists of Fund RC-Investments, the investment platform of the Roscongress Foundation, a co-investor in the project.
The first round of investments is expected to attract USD 230 million from private investors from Russia and the UAE. This amount will cover launching the centre with 300 falcons. In the future, the number of hunting birds is projected to reach 1,000. A portion of the population will regularly be released into the wild.
The Kamchatka centre will become the worlds largest falcon breeding facility. It will include a multifunctional ornithological building, a circling tower, a maintenance station, a quail farm, feeding units for falcons, and aviaries for young falcons. It will combine international best practices in falcon breeding, including the expertise gained at Muras, the Russian-Kyrgyz falcon nursery.
In the future, it is planned to build five more nurseries for gyrfalcons in their traditional habitat: Magadan and Sakhalin Regions, Chukotka and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Districts, and the Altai Republic.
But most importantly, the centre will breed the hunting birds of the highest quality. If successful, this project will strengthen Russias ties with the Middle Eastern countries. The new centre in Kamchatka under the auspices of the UAE is expected to encourage other Persian Gulf counties to support similar facilities in the future. Eventually, it will result in a favourable environment for hunting birds breeding stations in the Russian Far East, which, in its turn, will boost investments into tourism and transport infrastructure.
FALCONRY IS A SPECTACULAR OUTDOOR SPORT DEFINITELY WORTH SEEING. MOREOVER, IT IS ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY AND HUMANE: FALCONS EITHER CATCH THE PREY OR LET IT ESCAPE