Abu Dhabi: Shaikh Zayed was persistent in his efforts in falconry and conservation. He organised the first World Conference on Falconry and Conservation in Abu Dhabi in 1976, which brought together falconers from North America, Europe, the Far East and Arabia.
“The conference was the launching pad for a strategy that has transformed the world of falconry to this day,” Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, secretary-general of the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD), told Gulf News.
It brought falconers into the mainstream of emerging conservation efforts, she said.
Captive-bred falcons from Europe first began to appear in Arabia, launching a trend of UAE falconers choosing captive-bred birds, thus reducing the offtake from wild stocks.
Like most Arab falconers, Shaikh Zayed released his falcons back into the wild at the end of the hunting season. This inspired the Shaikh Zayed Falcon Release Programme, which began in 1995 and is today considered one of the most impactful release programmes in the world.
Since it began, more than 1,800 falcons have been released back into their natural habitat in countries such as Pakistan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.