Sixty-eight wild falcons have been released in Kazakhstan as part of a project supported by the Sheikh Zayed Falcon Release Programme.
The release is part of efforts from the Abu Dhabi conservation group to protect the species in co-operation with the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources of Kazakhstan.
Some 40 peregrines and 28 saker falcons were rescued and rehabilitated at Environment Agency’s Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital.
Following an analysis of Kazakhstan’s topography and after ensuring the area was within the species migration range, the wild birds were released in a region dominated by mountains and wide plains.
Their migration track covers a large area including parts of Russia, China and Mongolia.
Twelve falcons were fitted with satellite tracking devices to monitor flight path and gather scientific data in line with the programme’s objective to give the birds a fighting chance of survival.
“The falcon is a bird of cultural and historic significance for many and an important symbol for the people of both Abu Dhabi and Kazakhstan," said Mohamed Al Bowardi, managing director of the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi. "By working together in an international partnership, we increase the chances for the species in the wild.”
More than 1,800 falcons have been released since the programme was established in 1995 by the UAE’s Founding Father the late Sheikh Zayed.
Abu Dhabi also set up the world’s first hospital dedicated to falcons and has encouraged falconry using captive-bred birds.
A falcon passport to track and monitor captive falcons in the UAE and a licensing system for their trade in the country is also in place and approved by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna.