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ADIHEX Contributes To Promoting Captive-Bred Falcons

Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler's Representative in Al Dhafra Region and Chairman of the Emirates Falconers’ Club, the 18th edition of the International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (ADIHEX) will be organised by the Emirates Falconers’ Club from the 27th of September to the 3rd of October 2021, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

The breeding of falcons in captivity had a big impact on the sport of falconry and played a major role in the sustainability and revival of this authentic heritage, with the use of captive-bred falcons growing exponentially in countries of the Arab Gulf.

In 1995, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan worked to replace the use of wild falcons with captive-bred, years later the UAE became the first country in the Middle East to only use captive-bred falcons in the sport of falconry.

In parallel, and in the same year, the Sheikh Zayed Falcon Release Program was announced with the aim of preserving population of wild falcons by providing them with sufficient opportunities to breed in their natural habitats, which resulted in a remarkable increase in the number of falcons breeding facilities in the world and the expansion and development of the industry.

Emirati and international experts attribute the success of efforts to use captive-bred falcons in the sport of falconry, the remarkable increase in the number of falcon farms in the world and the expansion and development of their industry, to Emirati efforts primarily represented in the ADIHEX, which was launched in 2003 by the Emirates Falconers’ Club, and the announcement of the UNESCO in 2010 of the registration of falconry in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage through international efforts led by the UAE.

Majid Ali Al Mansouri, Secretary General of the Emirates Falconers’ Club and President of the International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey (IAF), said that Abu Dhabi worked early on developing an effective strategy for the sustainability of this heritage sport, based on expanding captive breeding to produce enough high-quality birds for sale at reasonable prices. This was done in conjunction with awareness campaigns targeting falconry enthusiasts to preserve wild falcons and limit their hunting.

He emphasised that such efforts reflect the concern of the wise leadership to preserve heritage and sustainable hunting. This ongoing and intense effort to strike a balance between the UAE’s aspirations for comprehensive development and progress and preserving its cultural and social legacies is a unique experiment that has won the admiration and appreciation of the world.

The use of captive-bred falcons in falconry has lessened the pressure on wild falcons and increased their numbers. Abu Dhabi’s research and scientific efforts has helped in improving the breeds of falcons to become stronger and more immune to fungi and diseases. It also worked on producing selected species with distinctive hunting qualities and aesthetics.

Abu Dhabi International Hunting & Equestrian Exhibition ADIHEX, which is held annually in Abu Dhabi, is an ideal regional and global forum from which to promote sustainable hunting. Thousands of visitors to the exhibition, including falconers from the UAE, the GCC, and around the world, are encouraged to use captive-bred falcons.

ADIHEX succeeded in promoting the idea that captive-bred falcons have proven to be as skilled and efficient at hunting as their wild counterparts, if properly cared for and trained. This is helping to dispel the mistaken belief that some falconers hold, despite the lack of any scientific evidence, that captured wild falcons are better hunters than falcons that are captive bred and raised.

ADIHEX has played a major role in the transformation of falconry in the region to the almost universal use of captive-bred falcons in a sport which is so deeply rooted in Emirati heritage. This has also resulted in an increase in the number of falcon breeding facilities around the world to meet the growing needs of the sport.

ADIHEX is an important opportunity for both falconers and falcon breeders, because it coincides with the start of both, the hunting season and the season for falconry competitions and championships, with the end of one year and the beginning of the next. This is the prime time for falconers to start acquiring the best captive-bred falcons with which to compete in local and regional events, as well as using them to practice falconry in nature reserves that allow it. At the forefront of these local competitions are: - The President's Cup Falcon Competition, - Al Dhafra Festival Falconry Competitions, - The "Challenges of Al-Zajil" Falconry Championship in Abu Dhabi, - Fakhr Al Ajyal (Pride of the Generation) Falconry Championship, - The Fazza Championship for Falconry (Al-Talwah), which is organised by Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Center in Dubai.

This is in addition to the start of the annual hunting season at the Al Marzoom Reserve which opens its doors to falconers and traditional hunting enthusiasts from November to February, and the high season at the Mohammed bin Zayed Falconry and Desert Physiognomy School in Remah and Tilal Resort in Al Ain, whose courses in the art of Arabian falconry are in high demand.

The Falcon Auction at ADIHEX 2019 witnessed the participation of dozens of local and international companies specialized in breeding the best falcons in the world. The bidding and competition between falconers from various GCC countries for the best captive-bred falcons has encouraged breeders to produce supreme falcons in different categories and make them available to falconers at competitive prices.

This unique auction attracts falcon owners, falcon farms, falconers from the UAE and all over the world, as well as VIPs and businesspeople interested in the falconry sector.

ADIHEX has become an international platform that recognises and presents the finest captive-bred falcon breeds in Abu Dhabi. It allows people of all nationalities to purchase falcons of high quality and excellent hunting capabilities, which encouraged entrepreneurs around the world to invest in the captive-bred falcon industry.

In the past, falconers of the UAE and the region had to travel abroad to buy falcons from private farms in Europe, but ADIHEX has provided them with an ideal opportunity to purchase and sell falcons bred within the best falcon breeding farms around the world.

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