In pursuit of the elusive prey

Falconry in Muthanna desert

MUTHANNA, January 1 — In the vast wilderness of Muthanna, falconers engage in the ancient practice of falconry, seeking their favorite birds, notably the Houbara bustard. The rare bird hunting season lasts for about four months, concluding with the arrival of spring. Falconers increasingly rely on the hybrid “Lanner-Saker” falcon for its numerous advantages and strength.

Husam Al-Aqouli – Falconer:

“With the beginning of the 12th month, we head to the Muthanna desert and border areas in search of Houbara Bustard and other rare birds. We train Lanner-Saker Falcon, and Peregrine falcons to hunt prey. Falconers have selectively bred a type called the ‘Lanner-Saker,’ known for its maneuverability, fierceness, and a speed reaching up to 300 km per hour. The Lanner-Saker Falcon can snatch prey even from the mouths of wolves or dogs, boasting a large size and a very high price. It combines the qualities of two types of falcons. Falcon prices range from one million to 500 million dinars, depending on the bird’s type, size, age, and color. Falcon training takes 1-3 months, depending on age and type. The favorite prey for falconers is the Houbara Bustard bird, while falcons also chase wild rabbits and pigeons. The falcon must remain hungry and in need of food to be ready for hunting at any moment. If the falcon is full, it leaves its owner and flies away without returning.”

Houbara Bustard

Houbara Bustard