UAE releases 86 falcons into the wild in Kazakhstan

Several birds fitted with trackers to assist conservation efforts

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The UAE released 86 falcons into the wild in Kazakhstan as part of the Sheikh Zayed Falcon Release Programme.

Conservationists released 51 peregrine and 35 saker falcons to help sustain the species and learn more about them.

Eleven birds of prey were fitted with satellite-tracking devices – powered by solar energy – to monitor survival, breeding and migratory routes.

Established in 1995 by the Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed, the programme has returned 2,088 falcons to the wild.

Kazakhstan was chosen because it is a key stop-off on the birds' migratory route from Russia heading south for winter and on their return north. Its steppes, lakes and mountains also provide ideal hunting grounds, with ducks, rodents and hares plentiful.

The programme is supervised by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, in partnership with the International Fund for the Conservation of Houbara, which oversees the technical and field aspects, and the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, which undertakes veterinary services. It is also supported by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.

The programme receives falcons confiscated by the ministry – usually seized from people without the correct papers trying to sell them illegally – and rehabilitates them. Wild falcons are also donated after the hunting season ends.

Most falcons used in hunting are purpose-bred and stay in the UAE where they are cared for by their owners.