When renowned American aviator and environmental activist, Charles Lindbergh said “I realized that If I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes,” he probably never considered a time when the birds would be flying in the airplane!
But that is exactly what a recent photograph shows; 80 falcons, belonging to a Saudi prince, flying to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.
Treasured in the Middle East, the falcons even have their own passports; which possess an ID number that matches a band that the birds of prey wear around their legs. There, it is normal operating procedure for Middle Eastern Airlines such as United Arabic Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Qatar to allow pets, in this case falcons, to fly in passenger cabins of their airplanes.
“The falcon has been integrated in the Bedouin’s family like a child, like a son or daughter,” explained Dr. Margit Gabriele Muller, Director of the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital “They live with them in the living room, some sleep in the same bedroom. Like the owners, they have the same place in the car, so the falcon has a different kind of lifestyle here.”
Our guess is that Lindbergh would not approve of the main reason why the falcons fly in airplanes; which is to transport them to hunting destinations and racing competitions.
Falconry, the hunting of wild quarry in its natural state and habitat by means of a trained bird of prey, is a favored form of sporting in the UAE: where the falcon is also its national bird. Falconers fly internationally so that their birds can hunt prey that cannot be found locally.
Falconry brings “enormous harm” to raptors, said Zhou Lei, a rehabilitator from the IFAW’s Beijing Raptor Rescue Center, in a press release. “Falconry requires cruel manipulations to render an eagle submissive,” Lei said. “For example, raptors in training are subject to constraints on activities, starvation, and sleep deprivation. Many raptors die in the process; the survivors, if any, often suffer from various diseases.”
The Humane Society International (HSI) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) have acknowledged that falconry is cruel.
Source: Care 2 Causes, Apex Media