Hi Tom -
I note that nobody so far has replied publicly to your RFI on the absence of
legal falconry in Australia on BIRDING-AUS. Some points:
Traditional falconry is a means of recreational hunting that has existed for
thousands of years in some parts of the world. Because of its history, it
has acquired a folklore or mythology regarding the taking, training and
management of raptors for hunting, and concerning the relationship between
the falconer and the raptor (which is often, though not necessarily, a falcon).
Places where falconry is still practised legally may have an open market for
raptors that puts pressure on wild populations - including those in other
countries where taking birds from the wild may be illegal. Where falconry
is associated with social prestige (as in some Middle Eastern countries) the
prices paid for some raptors may be very high. Such countries are net
'consumers' of raptors from all over the world (including Australia).
Some traditional falconry techniques may be used in the rehabilitation of
injured raptors, as well as for occasional specialised wildlife management
purposes such as chasing birds away from the vicinity of airports. However,
falconry itself serves no useful conservation purpose. Indeed, it has been
suggested that falconry may put direct pressure on populations of threatened
animals (such as bustards in Arabia).
To carry out falconry properly requires not only much skill and experience
on the part of a falconer, it also (obviously) requires the use of a bird of
prey - either taken from the wild (usually) or bred in captivity (rarely).
However, the mystique of falconry attracts some people who want the
emotional reward (image, status, mystic communion with 'nature',
identification with or control over a symbol of power or freedom) without
the ability or willingness to give the necessary commitment of time and effort.
My opinion is that relaxing current legislative controls over the possession
of raptors by individuals in Australia for falconry would serve no useful
social purpose and could put extra pressure on the conservation status of
some Australian birds of prey.
Birds Australia Conservation & Liaison,
Australian Bird Research Centre,
415 Riversdale Road,
Hawthorn East, VIC 3123, Australia.
Tel: (03) 9882 2622. Fax: (03) 9882 2677.
O/s: +61 3 9882 2622. Fax: +61 3 9882 2677.
Web Homepage: http://www.vicnet.net.au/~birdsaus/