Saudi program to boost population of wild falcons praised by international experts

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A new program launched in Saudi Arabia to increase the population of wild falcons has been praised by the secretary of the International Association for Falconry (IAF).

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The ‘Hadad’ program focuses on releasing native falcons back into their natural habitats.

“We at the IAF applaud this fantastic new project which fulfills the conservation and heritage aspirations of falconers around the world,” said executive chairman Mark Upton in a video posted by Hadad’s Twitter profile.

“We would like to support this project in any way we can with our worldwide knowledge base of raptor conservation projects,” he added.

Volunteers, veterinary experts, international scientists, and local falconers will collaborate on the project, which focuses on boosting wild populations of the migratory birds of prey in central Asia as well as falcons native to the Kingdom.

“We can only emphasize how important it is that this project is supported by those who wish to maintain the heritage and continuation of traditional falconry in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and beyond,” said Upton.

Saudi Arabia has a rich heritage of falconry that is believed to stretch back thousands of years.

Prize falcons are coveted in the Kingdom; in October 2020 a falcon was sold for $173,000, thought to be the highest price paid for a bird of its kind.

In recent years, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pushed a range of social and environmental reforms in the Kingdom, including unveiling plans for a zero-carbon-emission megacity of one million residents called NEOM.

In December 2020, Athari Alkhaldi became the first woman to participate in a falconry event in the Kingdom when she took part in Riyadh’s King Abdulaziz Falconry Festival.

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