The Sport of Falconry in Qatar
Falconry in Qatar is an ancient tradition whose roots run deep as part of local identity among the Arab population in the country. In the contemporary Qatar society, Al Gannas, which is representative of the association of hunters, was founded in 2008. This association was charged with the responsibility of organizing the event and oversees every other activity that character is the event (Zubai, 2004). Through the Al Gannas, Qatar has the ability to promote traditional Arabic hunting by representing the Arab hunters in local and international platform. The association promotes the sport and cultural heritage by featuring the best facilities and equipment necessary for the hunting process. In addition, it is through the falconry sport that additional research has been encourages within the field (Ovalle, 2013). The falcon and hunting festival in Qatar is organized annular. During this festival, there are hunting and beauty competitions where the winners are rewarded with cars and money (Wakefield, 2012).
Being a hunting sport, it is important for the hunter to be skilled in hunting by demonstrating high-level patience and bravery. The demonstration of these skills is necessary for the sport as it facilitates the process of selecting the winners (Ovalle, 2013)
Falconry in the UAE unlike in the USA and Europe is not just a sport but also an element of cultural heritage. In ancient Arab community, falcons were essential hunting elements providing food to supplement the diets of the hunting family (Zubai, 2004)
Falconry especially in the ancient times facilitates the development of an emotional bond between the hunters and the falcons. This was because these birds played a significant role in helping hunting families acquire food in the desert (Wakefield, 2012). In the contemporary Qatari society, falcon owners treat their birds as members of the family. This is because of the fundamental role that they play in in facilitating falconry sport.
The personal association between falcon owners and the birds was demonstrated in the construction of the Abu Dhabi Falcon hospitals in which the birds are housed in air conditioned room and are fed nutritious diets such as mice while accessing the available medical facilities (Marozzi, 2015).
The game is often organized annually in Qatar with trainings taking place during the winter seasons. Winners in the game are often awarded cars as a sign of appreciation for their efforts and exemplary bravery and skills in engaging in upholding the cultural heritage (Zubai, 2004).
A falconry tool kit is one of the essential equipments that facilitate successful participation in the game. The tool kit is inclusive of wrenches and gauges, which are essential in the reduction of tire pressure when engaging in the game in soft sand. Additional material that are available in the falconry tool kit include the leg labels which are used to identify falcons by the owners considering that these bands are often different in colors making it easier to distinguish falcons (Zubai, 2004). Within the falconry tool kit, there are claw clippers, which assist the falconer in handling the bird during training or when there is a need to help the falcon closer to the owner. Tracker mounts are also other material that is available in the falconry tool kit. Their main rule is to provide the falconer with an updated location of the bird during the games or during the training period. This helps the falconers to be able to trace their birds throughout the training to minimize the possibility of loss.
The falcon is regards as one of the most important elements of the game. This is because it is through the annual falcon games in Qatar that falcon owners who are also hunters display their ability to handle the birds. These birds are bought by interested parties and taken through a 40 days training. This training helps the falcon owner and the bird to acquire skills that are highly valuable in the hunting game. In addition, it is through the sport that members of the Qatari community engage in the conservation of the birds whose presence in the Qatari society is comparable to that of the parrots and pigeons in other societies.
Gloves and falcon hoods are also essential material in the falconry sport. The gloves are used by the handler to protect their hands from the caws of the birds in the process of the game. Falcon hoods are headgears of the birds, which are worn by the birds for identification and in some cases to protect the birds against any form of harm (Zubai, 2004).
Radio monitors are also materials used in the games to ensure constant monitoring of the activities of the birds. The radio transmitters are high powered to cover a radius of about 50 kilometers. These transmitters are used to minimize the possibility of losing the birds in hunting or during training practices (Zubai, 2004).
Different communication devices enhance the ability of the falconers to acquire and share information during the games and practices in the hunting season hence facilitating the success of these games
Trucks serve the purpose of transporting the falconers to their destinations of hunting or practicing.
One of the rules requires falcon owners to engage in occasional training of the birds. This is because the falcon is a wild bird and in the wilderness their mothers who teach them the art of hunting conducts most of the trainings. When they are domesticated, it is the responsibility of the falcon owner to engage in occasional training of the bird as way of improving on its hunting skills and its relationship with the owner.
It is important for falcon practices to be conducted in open spaces such as deserts. This will reduce the possibility of destructing the activities of other members of the society. This makes it the responsibility of the falcon owners, with permission from the government to identify designated locations that are essential for falcon training (Zubai, 2004).
The falcons, during the hunting seasons can only hunt bustards. The council in charge of the environments and natural reserves ensures the continuity of the sports while at the same time engaging in environmental and wildlife conservation through this one way. Through this rule, it is prohibited for falconers to engage in hunting of all the other types of birds by law.
Only birds of the native falcon breed can be allowed to participate in the falconry sports. This is the view of the council in charge of the conservation of the environments and natural reserves is the only way through which the native falcon can be conserved to minimize the possibility of its extinction through crossbreeding initiatives (Vesely, 2008).
For a falcon to qualify as a participant in the falconry games, it is important for the birds and the falconer to receive adequate training. This is only possible when highly skilled trainers who use live or replica birds to ensure the perfection of their hunting skills train these birds (Lindemann, 2011).
All Falcons are under the protection of the local and federal government in Qatar. This is a technique through which the government ensures that the birds are protected from any harsh treatments. Falcons that participate in the hunting games must be returned to the wild upon completion of the games. This is the only way, according to the government, through which their protection in their natural habitat can be guaranteed (Vesely, 2008).
The main aim of the falconry sport in Qatar is to ensure the protection and the promotion of the ancient sporting and hunting tradition in Qatar. This is often enhanced by organizing annual events of the falconry sports. In addition, the promotion of this sport is facilitated by continuous training of a younger generation of falconers who will inculcate the cultural practice to other members of the society in the future (Vesely, 2008).
An additional aims for the organization and participation of the falconry sport in Qatar is often to ensure is to propagate activities that are acceptable in the Muslim religion. This makes the sport not only a cultural event but also a religious event. According to the Holy Quran, it is legitimate to consume prey captured by a falcon even if the prey is missing some parts of the body. Prophet Mohammad also gave members of the Muslim religion the permission to use falcons as hunting birds (Zubai, 2004).
An additional aim of the falconry sport is to ensure the protection and conservation of the falcon. In the Arab community, the falcon played a remarkable role. The bird was metaphorically quoted in different poetic and intellectual platforms. The bird is therefore a symbol of excellence with regard to its hunting skills and keen eyesight. This makes it an important part of the Arab heritage hence the need to demonstrate its importance through the organization of the annual falcon hunting festivals in Qatar (Wakefield, 2012).
In terms of the learning outcomes, the study of falconry sport provides an understanding of the heritage of the members of the Qatar republic and the Arab population. This level of understanding provides details of the essence of the sport in Qatar. In addition, falconry is platform through which learners understand the modes of survival of the native Arab population in the desert region (Vesely, 2008).
An additional learning outcome is in the distinction between the essence of the falconry sport and other sporting activities. The essence of the sport in relation to the Arab population in Qatar provides an undemanding of the way of life in the country in the previous years (Wakefield, 2012). The sport, which is about 1,000 years old, is highly popular among the elite members of the Qatari society. This explains why there are relentless efforts by the Qatari government to restock its natural habitat with the Houbara bustards as a way of ensuring the continuity of the sporting event (http://algannas.net/en/?page_id=47).
One way through which the government of Qatar has ensured the popularity of the sport indifferent regions around the world is by encouraging falconers to travel in search of hunting ground in different regions around the world. This not only popularizes the sport but also provides the falconers with experience on how to hunt in different regions using the falcons (Wakefield, 2012).
Just like any other spotting activity, falconry is tome consuming and tiresome especially during the training of falcons captured from the wild. It will be a requirement for the falconer with the help of the trainer to spend time domesticating the bird to ensure that it is socialized into the rule of the game (Exell & Rico, 2013). For the relatively older individuals the time consuming nature of the sport is a contributor to stress related to the desire to complete an experience. Flexibility during the training period may result in fatigue and a reduction of the level of interest among the participants in the sport especially if it requires travelling in different areas as a way of ensuring complete domestication of the bird to enable its participation in the sporting events.
Psychologically, the game serves as elements of reassurance of the protection of a cultural heritage that has been passed down for more than a millennium from one generation to another. Despite the practice of the event as a port rather than a source of food, members of the Qatari population demonstrate their desire to preserve traditional practices creates some form of reassurance to the elderly population on matters relate to the ability of the Qatari population to align traditional practices with modern activities (http://algannas.net/en/?page_id=47).
Physiologically the sporting activity is highly physical for the elderly population. This means that it requires energy and some level of dedication to ensure that they acquire the accurate levels demonstration of the skills. Unlike hunting in the native Arabic society, the sport requires that the falconers keep the birds on one of the arms for several hours in a day. This is not only painful but it is also problematic to any member of the society who engages in less physical jobs (http://algannas.net/en/?page_id=47).
In native Arabic societies, falconry was a cultural practice through which different individual engaged in an activity, which allowed them to use falcons to hunt for food supplements. However, in the cotemporary Arabic society falconry is a sport in which members of the elite society demonstrate their urge and passion towards the protection of their cultural heritage (Foley, 2014). The Houbara birds, which serve the purpose of bait in the sport, have been hunting and are threatened by extinction. The sport form the view of the elderly does not serve its intended purpose, instead it only serves to eradicate the Houbara bastard population while protection the life of the falcon. By extension, therefore this approach the protection of cultural heritage is destructive to the urge of ensuring environmental protection (Lindemann, 2011).
Inasmuch as the sport aims at preserving the cultural heritage of the Arab population in Qatar, it is however a preserve of the elite members of the society. From the perspective of the elders, it is only those with the resources of purchasing and maintaining falcons, who can participate in the sport (Lindemann, 2011). For the elderly population this is a discriminatory way of preserving a cultural heritage considering that it only provides few members of the society with an opportunity of participating in the activities while excluding a large population for participant in the elite sport hence losing its intended relevance (Foley, 2014).
Falcon sport is a hunting initiative, which involves a falcon and the falconer in search for prey. Like other forms of hunting, the falconry is a sport that aims to apply the skills of a falcon, which is naturally gifted with the ability to hunt and kill its prey. The role of the falconer is to domesticate the falcon into the sporting activities (Lindemann, 2011). When compared to other hunting sports such as hunting with dogs, the falconry is more effective considering that the falcon has the ability to sport its prey hundreds of meters away due to its perfect eyesight. This allows it to develop a perfect strategy on how to capture the prey with high-level accuracy. Being carnivores, the dogs can also spot their pray meters away but they are not as accurate as the falcons (Lindemann, 2011).
The efficiency of hunting with falcons emanates from the hunting techniques employed by the birds. The use of high-speed stoop for instance coupled with the chase and grab approach provides the birds with an element of exactness when hunting (Amara, 2008). The bird is able to fly high above in the sky and suddenly attack its prey. In addition, falcons have sharp beaks and claws that allow them to dismember their prey upon capture making it relatively difficult for the prey to escape from its grip. The use of falcons in hunting is faster and highly effect when compared to the use of bow, arrows, and spears (Lindemann, 2011).
Falconry when compared to other sporting activities serves purpose of proving entertainment and engaging in aspects of environmental and cultural conservation initiatives. Hunting with guns is also an element of sport in the western society (Amara, 2008). This approach to hunting does not serve to protect any culture of conserve the environment but only seeks its destruction though noise pollution and killing of wildlife.
Just like any other sporting activity in the world today, falconry is beneficial since it provides rewards to those participating. The falcon is rewarded with food for motivation and constant health checks (Marozzi, 2015). The falconer acquires the prestige and is appreciated through gift 6f cars and money. In other sports such as football, the winners are rewards with trophies and money as a sign of appreciation for their efforts (Amara, 2008).
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