The first gathering of falcon and golden eagle breeders from Central Asian and European countries took place on the shores of Kyrgyzstan’s Lake Issyk-Kul. The gathering was organized by an association of hunting bird trainers. Hunter from Bishkek Anatoly Manokhin says that it would be better to say that the organization was revived, not founded anew, as birds of prey was popular in Central Asia for centuries. Only during recent years, when national traditions have been threatened by severe capitalist conditions, have falcons and golden eagles fell victims to poaching.
These words were confirmed by French scientist Kurt Claude, who has been studying the biological diversity of species for several years already. He says that birds illegally exported from Kyrgyzstan can be seen in customs offices of almost all European and Arab countries. Rich Arab sheikhs pay tens of thousands of dollars for such rare birds. The former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan has started a fierce war against poachers who destroy the country’s wildlife. Unfortunately, harmless and honest followers of falconry have also suffered in this war. These people have to explain why they keep hunting birds to officials.
In the meantime, well-trained birds can bring great earnings to the country. Chairman of the Austrian Ornithologist Union Joseph Hibler knows from his own experience that falconry is one of the rapidly developing sectors of exotic tourism. Many foreign investors are ready to invest in this kind of tourism. Kyrgyzstan breeders of birds of prey enjoy a great reputation on the market. The breeders demonstrated their skills at the recently held Issyk-Kyl gathering of falcon and golden eagle breeders. It is an unspeakable picture when you see a bird of prey shoot upwards from a hunter’s glove and fly into the sky making large circles. It flies so high that you cannot see it any more, but it sees everything with its sharp eyes. When the bird returns, its speed can reach 130 kmh. For a moment, the hunter holds a gopher, hare, or sometimes even a fox in his hands. Falcons seldom miss their prey. The true fans of falconry, the Germans, Austrians, Slovaks, French, and Arabs standing on the lake’s shores, applauded the splendid bird and its trainer.
In accordance with the Kyrgyz legend, the falcon is a sacred bird that must be treated carefully and reverentially. If not, the spirits of the bird can bring disasters upon whole nations when the nations forget the traditions of their ancestors. We believe that the people of Kyrgystan don’t deserve this punishment yet, especially since interest in the sacred birds is gaining steam once again.
Yury Razgulyayev PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://world.pravda.ru/world/2002/5/15/40/4178_sokol.html
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