Scottish falcons are stolen by order of Arab sheikhs: Investigation

By Tychyna TetianaMar 12, 2024 10:24 AMNews
Share:
Scottish falcons are stolen by order of Arab sheikhs: Investigation
The falcon is a status bird. Source: www.instagram.com/zhenyadance

Recently, the results of Operation Tantallon, a major criminal investigation into wildlife that uncovered evidence of international trade in illegally caught birds, were announced. It involved officers from the UK's National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU).

The criminals were stealing to order for sheikh clients, many of whom live in the incredibly oil-rich deserts of Arabia, where falconry is gaining popularity. However, falconry has quickly turned into a lucrative global enterprise that has exposed Scottish wild peregrine falcons to ruthless exploitation on the black market, DailyMail reports.

In elite Arab circles, the best specimens are in demand not only because of their speed but also as the ultimate status symbol. This eventually led to the spread of bird smuggling and the flourishing of the black market. Often, birds caught in the wild were smuggled and sold within a few years. It has been emphasized that many birds stolen from the wild are now involved in racing in Dubai.

Thus, it is easy to see why organized crime might be interested in peregrine eggs. In Middle Eastern countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, top identities are worth more than their weight in gold. In October 2022, a record price of almost 780 thousand pounds was set for a falcon.

At the same time, the bird's purebred appearance can be as valuable as its speed. The UAE is now holding peregrine falcon "beauty contests" with six-figure prizes for the winners. In the vast air-conditioned shopping malls of Dubai and Doha, the capital of Qatar, designer falconry shops sell not only tethered birds but also the latest fashion accessories and potions to enhance their plumage and increase their strength.

Birds can be brought in for a simple checkup or microchipping, but there are surgical rooms ready to handle injuries sustained in the race, including broken bones, using identical equipment as in human hospitals and the same medications you'd find in a pharmacy. In addition, more cosmetic work takes place in the "impingement" room, a beauty salon for falcons, where beaks are polished, claws are trimmed, and damaged feathers are replaced from a large "feather bank" where tens of thousands of feathers are sorted by color, pattern, and size.

Moreover, experts consider captive-bred birds, which can be legally traded, to be slower because they are hand-fed from birth and do not have to hunt. Wild birds are more desirable: they are considered stronger, fiercer, and faster, and Scottish specimens, which are genetically larger than Mediterranean specimens, are particularly prized in the Middle East.

Despite a recent resurgence, peregrine falcons are still considered rare, with around 1,600 wild pairs nesting across the UK - about a third of them in Scotland -  thanks to the work of conservationists and vigilant volunteer groups. There are also numerous legal captive breeding projects.

The Al Thani royal family from Qatar has owned one of them near Bonchester Bridge in Roxburghshire for exclusive private use for more than a decade and hires the best local breeders to achieve results. At the same time, according to police and animal welfare charities, the legal trade in captive-bred eggs is being abused by large operators to launder stolen birds.

The laundering process begins when a wild bird is seized: a false declaration is filled out stating that the falcon was legally bred from captive adults, and then shipped abroad as soon as possible. According to Police Scotland, the number of peregrine export permits in the UK increased by 4,500 percent between 2007 and 2022, and it is unknown how many were illegally caught.

Researchers say that Operation Tantallon has shown that many more people are involved in the illegal business. "The problem is that we just don't know the scale of the problem, we don't know if it's a loss of 20-30 birds a year or more than 100. I suspect it's more likely to be more than 100, but we don't really know that," the conclusions say.

If you are interested in what to visit while travelling to Dubai, read the article from TravelWise.

Top Articles
Seville is the perfect vacation destination

Where to stay in Seville: Top 10 hotels for every traveler

Jun 14, 2024 09:17 AM
Secrets of choosing airlines in the US

Budget flights: the best US low-cost airlines for budget travelers

Jun 13, 2024 08:39 AM

Top 10 great hotels in Glasgow: from serviced apartments to stylish boutique properties and grand townhouses

Jun 12, 2024 09:15 AM

America's air harbors: the largest airports in the United States

Jun 11, 2024 10:07 AM
More News
Alaska Airlines plane taking off at sunset

Alaska Airlines Introduces Nonstop Flights Between Anchorage and New York City

Jun 15, 2024 06:30 AM
A crowd of people waiting for a train at a busy German train station during sunset

Euro 2024 Travel Chaos for England Fans

Jun 15, 2024 05:30 AM

Flynas Expands Domestic Flights for Summer, Boosting Tourism with Over 480,000 Seats

Jun 15, 2024 04:30 AM

Visit Cardiff Releases Travel Advice for Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour

Jun 15, 2024 03:30 AM
Emirates airplane flying in the sky

Emirates Celebrates Eid Al Adha with Gourmet Treats and Entertainment

Jun 15, 2024 02:30 AM
A bus with a passenger waiting at the bus stop

Regional Bus Fares to Increase in West Midlands

Jun 15, 2024 01:30 AM
New York JFK Airport, New York City, USA

FK's New Baggage Sanitization System Eliminates 99.9% Of Harmful Pathogens From Luggage In Seconds

Jun 15, 2024 00:30 AM
Southwest Airlines plane in flight

FAA Investigates Southwest 737 MAX Incident After Near Mach 1 Scare

Jun 15, 2024 00:05 AM
Lightning striking the ground at night

Air New Zealand Flight Makes Emergency Return After Lightning Strike

Jun 14, 2024 23:30 PM

FAA Cracks Down on Unruly Passengers as Summer Travel Soars

Jun 14, 2024 22:30 PM

Severe Weather in Florida Causes Major Disruptions at Newark Airport

Jun 14, 2024 21:30 PM
Aerial view of lush green landscape and beach on the Solomon Islands

Discover the Cultural Heritage of the Solomon Islands: Historical Recordings Return Home

Jun 14, 2024 20:30 PM
View of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece

Greece Issues Travel Warning as Temperatures Soar to 43°C

Jun 14, 2024 19:30 PM
Flydubai airplane on runway with city skyline in background

Flydubai Launches Seasonal Summer Routes to Stunning Island Destinations

Jun 14, 2024 18:30 PM
Qatar Airways plane on the runway

Qatar Airways Passengers Strip Amid 100-Degree Heat During Tarmac Delay

Jun 14, 2024 17:32 PM

Iberia Expands Record Capacity Between Europe and Latin America for 2024

Jun 14, 2024 16:30 PM

UK Travel Industry Faces New Regulatory Challenges Impacting Travelers

Jun 14, 2024 15:34 PM
Frontier Airlines plane in flight

Frontier Airlines Launches 'Family Summer Getaway' Giveaway

Jun 14, 2024 14:30 PM
Close-up view of a bus parked on a city street

Travel Disruption: Oxford Bus Services to Heathrow Cancelled

Jun 14, 2024 13:36 PM
Cruise ship of Royal Caribbean

World's Longest Cruise Offers 274 Nights of Adventure Across 60+ Countries

Jun 14, 2024 13:00 PM
Dense cloud formations seen from an airplane

Increasing Turbulence in Flights: What to Expect

Jun 14, 2024 12:30 PM
Black Pearson road bike

Naked Cyclists Protest for Safer Streets in London and Mexico City

Jun 14, 2024 12:00 PM

Safety Incident on Lowther Street, Carlisle: A Travel Advisory

Jun 14, 2024 11:35 AM

Ryanair Enforces Ban on Lighters in Hand Luggage

Jun 14, 2024 11:00 AM
Venice canal with colorful buildings and boats

Qatar Airways Resumes Daily Flights to Venice, Italy

Jun 14, 2024 10:30 AM
Beware of buying Ice Cream on the beach

UK Tourists Warned of £2,500 Fines for Breaking Ice Cream Rule in Benidorm

Jun 14, 2024 10:00 AM