Falconry is an essential part of desert life which
has been practiced in the UAE for centuries. Originally,
falcons were used for hunting, to supplement the Bedouin
diet with some meat. Nowadays, falconry is practiced purely
for sport. There is now a very successful captive breeding
programme in the UAE to ensure that this popular sport does
not eliminate this species.
Once a falcon is acquired, the falconer sets about training
it. A leather hood is used to cover the falcon’s eyes and
the bird is deprived of food in order to make it easier to
tame. In the first few weeks, the falconer remains with the
falcon all the time to create a relationship with the bird.
The bird is restrained by tethers around its ankles. During
the day the bird rests on the falconer’s leather sleeve,
while the falconer holds the tethers. By night, the tethers
are attached by a shorter cord to rotate on a small
mushroom-shaped wooden perch. This allows the falcon a
certain freedom of movement, whilst ensuring that it cannot
escape. The falconer names the bird and constantly calls to
it so that it comes to recognize his voice from great
Photo by Pink Delight, United Arab Emirates.