Abu Dhabi, UAE – In a significant conservation effort, the Sheikh Zayed Falcon Release Programme (SZFRP) has successfully rewilded a total of 2,211 endangered Saker and Peregrine falcons to date. The recent release of 52 falcons, including 23 Peregrine falcons and 29 Saker falcons, highlights the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) ongoing commitment to the program, which was launched 29 years ago in 1995.
Under the leadership of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region and Chairman of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), the SZFRP operates in partnership with the International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC). The IFHC oversees the technical and field aspects of the program, while the EAD provides veterinary services through the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital (ADFH). Additionally, the program receives valuable support from the Advisor of Private Affairs at the Presidential Court and the UAE Embassy in Kazakhstan.
This year’s falcon release took place in the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan between May 5th and 6th, supervised by the forests and wildlife committee in the Kazakh Ministry of Agriculture. The Karaganda region is a crucial area for migrating falcons, as previous analysis of satellite tracking data revealed that many previously released falcons have utilized this region. Kazakhstan’s diverse landscape, consisting of mountains and plains within the falcons’ migration range, makes it an ideal location for falcon releases. The region also offers abundant prey necessary for the falcons to breed and thrive. Furthermore, Kazakhstan is part of the wider migration zone for these species, encompassing areas in Russia, China, Mongolia, and neighboring countries.
With this latest release, the total number of falcons released in Kazakhstan has reached 911, comprising 293 Saker Falcons and 618 Peregrine Falcons. The program’s efforts align with Abu Dhabi’s commitment to preserving distinct falcon species and promoting environmental sustainability. By safeguarding biodiversity and enhancing the falcons’ resilience against threats posed by human activities, climate change, and other natural and anthropogenic factors, the program aims to ensure the survival and prosperity of these important species.
Before their release, the falcons underwent comprehensive medical examinations and rigorous training. Each bird was fitted with an electronic chip and an identification ring. Additionally, 11 falcons received satellite tracking devices powered by solar batteries to monitor their survival rates, migration patterns, and spread. These devices also collect scientific data that contribute to the development of effective methods for the preparation, rehabilitation, training, release, and selection of suitable habitats for the falcons.
Mohammed Ahmed Al Bowardi, Vice Chairman of EAD and the International Fund for Houbara Conservation, expressed his appreciation for the UAE’s dedication to preserving nature and protecting wildlife. He emphasized the success of Abu Dhabi’s partnership with Kazakhstan in this endeavor and extended gratitude to the Kazakh authorities for their cooperation and facilitation of the joint team’s work.
The EAD extended its thanks to falconers and wildlife enthusiasts for their participation in the program by donating wild Saker and Peregrine falcons. These birds are carefully tested, rehabilitated, and released in accordance with regulations and scientific protocols, ensuring the promotion of wildlife and the conservation of falcons in their natural habitats.