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JEDDAH: Falcons have become so sought after that they cost more than some properties. Falcon numbers have dwindled because hunters have decimated their traditional sources of food in the Kingdom, according to a local expert.
Abdulrahman Al-Sayyed, who helps enthusiasts treat and train their birds, said that a falcon was recently sold at an auction in the Kingdom for SR1.5 million, according to a report in a local publication on Thursday.
He said the main reason for many species of falcons becoming extinct is that there is unregulated hunting of their main sources of food here, mainly the houbara bustard or North African houbara. He urged the Saudi Wildlife Society to take action against those violating hunting laws.
Al-Sayyed said he had taken courses on treating falcons in Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and European countries after his own birds became ill and died in his village, Qouthayma in Jeddah.
He said his clients include falcon breeders and amateurs from across the Kingdom, including businesspeople and government officials. “They come seeking my advice when their falcons get sick,” he said.
He said the birds he looks after include the Peregrine Falcon, Lanner Falcon and Persian Free Falcon, and other rare ones brought from countries abroad into the Kingdom.
The Saudi Wildlife Society announced recently that fines for unregulated hunting have been increased from SR10,000 to SR500,000, a month in prison and confiscation of all equipment. The penalties are doubled for repeat offenders.