These students all take flight after training
Jannes Kruger is falconry manager at Banyan Tree Al Wadi resort in Ras al Khaimah. He has trained falcons for nearly a decade in the Middle East and here he flies us through a typical day:
I try to get up. I'm not a big breakfast man. I have a very strong cup of coffee on the way in to work, at my favourite Adnoc.
Normally I do a quick inspection at the falconry centre, looking at the birds and their body language. You can see from their demeanour and other signs whether they're happy or not. We have 10 falcons - sakers, peregrines, some hybrids and so on - five owls, two eagles and two harris hawks.
I take the birds outside. They have perches with baths, where they usually sit. In summer, I don't take them out because it's stupidly hot. The mews - an indoor area - protects them from predators such as cats and foxes, and heat.
We welcome the guests and introduce them to all the birds. We take the falcons up to the flying area, overlooking a valley. I put a glove on the guest's hand, and the bird flies to it. It's a crowd-pleaser. In our show, the falcon dives between 100 and 150kph, attacking this lure I hand made. We usually end off with a big bang and fly one of the eagles, which demolishes this lure that looks like a rabbit. It's extremely impressive and scary.
I have a rat-breeding project and give them water for feeding to the owls. We have quail-breeding at another facility. I get them vacuum-packaged. The falcons eat the quail.
I try to catch up on e-mails, have lunch and maybe have a nap.
We prepare for the afternoon show, [where] we have more guests coming in.
The show starts. When people come, they are aware of the fact Arabs love falconry, but few realise why it's so important. For the previous 2,000 years, which is how long falconry has been practised here, falcons were the bedouins' shotgun for putting food on the table at night, or on the fire at the tent. Things changed only when oil was discovered. It's so important culturally.
I pack up for the night, bring all the birds that are still outside inside. Do one last walk-around.
I get home. If I have a new bird that I'm training, I'll often take the bird with me at night to tame it down. I'll put it on a glove while I watch a movie, so the bird is exposed to human presence as much as possible. All the birds at the centre belong to the company I work for. I have one personal bird: Kiran, the female golden eagle. Kiran means "ray of light". She's my little sunshine, though sometimes she wants to eat me.
* Neil Parmar
Published: June 15, 2011 04:00 AM