Ruan Botha, owner and founder of Wild Flight Me
A chat with the falconer of over 26 years
Why is the tradition of falconry so important in Dubai?
Falconry, traditionally used as a survival ‘tool’, not only plays an important role in a very rich culture but also plays a vital role in conservation. The importance here are based on preserving history, education and it aligns with the nations goal of protection of endangered species. Similar to the goals of Western and European falconry.
The falconry in the past and today.
Falconry was purely a way of providing food for the table, a different form of a hunting rifle you can say. In recent years much has changes. However, the art form is preserved by creating interests such as falcon racing, rehabilitation and special breeding projects for conservation purposes. The basic training techniques remain with smarter techniques being added such as better fitness training.
What is the great fascination of these animals of prey?
I can mention a few of my favorite aspects: after 26 years it’s still breathtaking when you see how powerful these creatures are, to see them fly with speeds up 300+km/h or experience how they can spot prey kilometres away.
What are the best qualities of a good falconer?
In my opinion, it’s patience and dedication to what you as a falconer is responsible of. I always say that if you are impatient, falconry will teach you how to be patient.
What is the best and most requested experience to Wild Flight Me team by tourists?
We have created an environment where we invite visitors and share our passion of this 4,000-year-old art form.We depict how falconry is practiced in the region and give you the opportunity to come up and close to our feathered team members.
What is the most anticipated event of the year for falconers?
Apart from World Falconry Day (16th November), we also celebrate and share stories at the International Festival of Falconry. The event is organised by the Emirates Falconers’ Club (EFC) with the objective of promoting the heritage of falconry. Falconry is registered as a living heritage by the Unesco.