Every time he drove to a big competition over bumpy roads and sand dunes, Mokhles Nejres would have problems with his falcon Germousha. The male gyr falcon was one of his fastest but as soon as she started to flap, the other birds in his car would get excited.
“Once he’s flapping then the other 12 falcons all start flapping and it’s a problem,” says the Iraqi falconer, 47.
“I have to pull over, park the car, give them all water and make sure they all calm down. A fast falcon is good for competition but bad in the car.”
Fortunately, Nejres is an inventor and for the last 10 years he has run a full time business from Dubai selling solutions to falconry problems. The solution for a peaceful drive came to Nejres six years ago. He calls it the Shaking Stick, a one metre pole about 15 cm in diameter, that rocks back and forth so the falcon becomes accustomed to a car’s movements.
Nejres is a regular at the five-day Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (Adihex), which started on Tuesday at the Abu Dhabi Exhibition Center.
Nejres is not the first to try to make driving with falcons more comfortable. Any falconer in the country can tell you, it is no easy feat to dune bash with a flapping falcon or two.
Every year, falconers invented new solutions to perennial problems and debut them at Adihex, with varying levels of success.
The exhibition got off to a slow start on Tuesday morning with most visitors gathered around the famed Zahran Al Harassi Halwa, a regular exhibitor from Al Ain that gave out free samples olive oil, fig and saffron halwa.
This year’s show stopper may be the Dubai Falcon Centre’s imaginative life sized pirate ship, surrounded by 40 gyr falcons perched on fake piers like majestic seagulls. Priced at an average of Dh45,000, they were selling quickly.
Many falconers were drawn to Nejre’s simple display of three Shaking Sticks that rocked back and forth. This is Shaking Stick is version 3.0, which is smaller than the original model and can be split into five pieces for easy shipping, a necessity for his Saudi Arabian and Kuwaiti customers. It has eight speeds and can imitate the sound of a motor.
It also helps domestic wild falcons, which are usually rocked on the arm of trainers until they grow accustomed to being handled.
“New falcons move around a lot because it’s a change of life for him. Old falconers do this and shake their arm up and down with the arm for a long time to train the falcon. Before every falconer had one falcon. Two was a lot. but now, falconers have 12 or 20 falcons. They can’t do this with every new falcon.”
Nejres learned falconry at age 13, on the seih east of Baghdad with a shaheen falcon named Wadiyan. Nejres left his job in 2007 and opened Sinjar Falcon & Hunting & Camping Equipments and Trading in Dubai. He travels to China every year to develop his products.
His inventions include pigeon boxes with astroturf on top that double as falcon perches, a password-protected falcon caller (thievery can be a problem in the desert) and numbered gloves so each falcon can be fed with a different glove to reduce disease transmission.
Sometimes, falcons disappear. Nejres, who is known as Abu Radad, got thousands of falconers to tag their birds and enrol in his database. Now when any falcon goes missing, he sends out an SMS with Etisalat giving the detail of the bird’s owner and hunting location.
“Why did I succeed? Because so many people saw me at competitions and if I tell them it’s good, people will believe me. They’ll say Abu Radad told them. Anything I make, I test with my own falcons first.”
He had two years of Shaking Stick prototypes before he came up with the right model.
“At first it was too small but very, very fast. Because I made it too fast, it was not good for the falcons. After one week they had a problem with their wings. they got tired.”
Mubarak Mayouf, 26, bought one for his grey gyr falcon Samsoom, who always disturbs his other two birds on road trips. “I bought her three weeks ago. Driving is always a problem in the first few months.”
What products can be expected from Abu Radad next year?
“This is a secret,” he says. “But I’m close. I have a good plan. It’s something for pigeons.”
Adihex runs from 11am until 10pm daily until Saturday at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. For more information visit adihex.com