A video showing huge number of falcons – mainly Lanners (Falco biarmicus) – held in captivity in what appears to be a desert area was shared recently in a Libyan facebook group dedicated to hunting. It was shared by someone using a pseudonym and claims to be from Egypt (he is not), however the video almost without a doubt was recorded in Libya.
See the video to have an idea about the number of birds stuffed in there (I counted some 100 birds, but some are hardly visible). Also note that all (visible) birds have their eyelids sewn-up. This is generally done when there are no ‘falconry hoods’ available to cover the falcons head. (This was originally omitted because it was obvious in the video, but added after readers’ comments here and on FB).
The questions that can be asked by anyone with limited knowledge about falconry and hunting in general are: Were these falcons wild-caught or bred in captivity? Are they held by legitimate falconers or by illegal hunters ready to smuggle them elsewhere or sell them locally?
To experienced people, the answer is very simple. These falcons were captured from the wild and are destined to be sold in the black market either locally or across the borders.
The conditions under which these falcons live are perfect for the spread of disease inside this ‘facility’ and to the wild populations. Genetic population is also a risk if the birds are from different populations or subspecies.
A regional problem
The illegal capture of wild falcons occurs across the region not just in Libya. However, for some reasons including security, the problem is probably not as bad as in this case. Here are some examples with happy endings thanks to dedicated people who saved them:
- Rare falcons rescued from poachers in Morocco (a Peregrine Falcon from Finland and a Saker Falcon).
- Peregrine Falcon rescued from poachers near Casablanca, Morocco (a male bird from Sweden).