Thursday, March 13, 2008

Middle East Falcon Trade Threatens Russia's Birds of Prey

Just as I was reading Samurai Sam's Interesting Links of the Day on the UAE Community blog on Dubai's falcon hospital, the Russian news started to run a story on falcon smuggling from Russia, which is a cruel process during which many birds die. Even if they do not, the process poses a very serious threat to several of Russia's birds, which are taken out of the breeding population while they are young or at prime breeding age. All of this got me thinking as to where the UAE's birds come from. I know there are nurseries in the UAE and Saudi, but I also know that smuggling is a serious issue (the first case of bird flu in Saudi was actually detected in eagles smuggled from Kazakhstan), and in the case of some species (including the aforementioned Kazakh eagles), threatens their very survival.

Once in the UAE, I believe that most people treat their birds well. An acquaintance 's family even has their own falcon medical center, while every falcon that I've seen, in the UAE or Saudi, looked well-cared for. I'm also glad to know that there is a free hospital for owners who want to ensure that their birds get the best care without worrying about how to pay for it. But I just can't see it all as a feel-good story; these birds come from somewhere, and in many cases, it really hurts their species and their homelands.