Nine of the birds were fitted with satellite tracking devices so their movements could be monitored in order to learn more about the habits of this iconic bird, which is at the heart of local culture and tradition, and is recognized as an intangible expression of heritage around the world.
Of the sixty-six falcons released this year, forty-four were Peregrine and twenty-two were Saker falcons.
One Peregrine falcon has so far been tracked on an immense journey of more than 12,000 km.
It set off in a north westerly direction from Kazakhstan and has since flown the length of Russia reaching the far north east corner of the country before undertaking its winter migration south over Kazakhstan and is currently in Uzbekistan.
This particular falcon was donated to the programme by the Royal Court of Bahrain. A second bird, a Saker Falcon, is also still being monitored. The Saker has remained in Kazakhstan since being released and has, so far, covered almost 5,000km. The journeys of both birds yielded many new insights into the behavior of falcons.
HE Mohammed Ahmed Al Bowardi, Managing Director of EAD, praised the achievements since the programme started and said, “The late Sheikh Zayed was a visionary leader and none more so than in the field of conservation. His belief that what we leave behind is more important than what we take, is a belief that underpins the efforts of the Abu Dhabi Government in conserving all that is precious in the natural world. The understanding of which provides a platform to work locally, regionally, and internationally in the pursuit of conservation. The falcon is not only our national symbol, but also the subject of legendary stories passed down from our ancestors. The work being undertaken on falcon conservation is essential if we are to preserve this bird for future generations.”
The Sheikh Zayed Falcon Release Programme is now in its eighteenth year and releases healthy rehabilitated falcons donated by falconers or confiscated by the authorities due to violations of laws and regulations. Following their release, the birds are monitored using state-of-the-art technology, which puts Abu Dhabi as the forefront of efforts to conserve the species.
HE Mr Al Bowardi, added, “The data we receive from the falcons we release is an essential element of our long-term strategy for ensuring healthy wild populations of these birds in the future. This year’s release has been fascinating with one bird travelling 12,755 km which has provided excellent information on migration patterns. Feeding this data into our future strategy enables us to build upon the successes we have already made and achieve even better outcomes in this vital conservation programme.”
Of the nine birds released, five were Sakers and four were Peregrines. Six months on from release two are still being monitored by satellite, while the others have either removed their transmitters, the transmitters no longer work or the birds have died.
Both species released into the wild this year appear on the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) index. The Peregrine Falcon is listed on Appendix I for species threatened with extinction and the Saker on Appendix II for species which are not threatened with extinction, but their trade must be controlled.
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