The desert. Image Credit: Stock photo/Pixabay

Abu Dhabi: A Saudi falcon trainer was found dead in Al Sarrar desert in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, six days after he was reported missing, Ghawth rescue team reported.

The 60-year-old falcon breeder used to rise before dawn and drive a dustyfour-wheel-drive car from Al Nairiya city into the harsh Arabian desert of Nafud Al Sarrar to train his falcons.

Before the sun rose, the man has sipped his coffee and carried a small army of muscular birds to perches in the sand. But he did not return from his last trip six days ago, the team said.

The trainer, dressed in long white kandura, was on the lookout for one of his falcons who was accidently blown off course by high winds during a training session, the team added.

The raptors, once their leather hoods had been removed, accelerate faster than a Formula One race car and follow a diving flight path to a trainer standing a few hundred yards off, holding a bundle of feathers fixed to rope.

If they go missing, falcon owners can determine their birds’ location with pin point accuracy by fitting them with GPS transmitters. But the senior citizen did not fit his bird with one and was a savvy user of his mobile phone, the team said.

The missing falcon trainer was found dead next to his vehicle, near the mobile tower from which he last called, 80km from the nearest village.

The rescue team said he had not been able to link his phone to the telecommunication network.

The team’s doctor said the man was exhausted and was recovering from gastric sleeve surgery.

Arabs have captured migrating falcons for thousands of years and trained them to hunt desert game for food, typically large birds called houbara bustards, rabbits, doves, and even gazelles. Falconry was a crucial tool for Bedouins to survive in the desolate desert.