Falconry In India

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ngrewal
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Falconry In India

Post by ngrewal » Sat Dec 25, 2010 8:55 pm

i was reading about faclonry in India and few names were mentioned - does any body know more about these gents?
the others are Shantanu Kumar and Shahid Khan, both of Jaipur whose ancestors were professional falconers to Kumar Shree Dharmakumarsinghji, brother of the Maharaja of Bhavnagar.

http://www.i-a-f.org/history.html

n the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent, falconry appears to have been known from at least 600 years BC. Falconry became especially popular with the nobility and the Mughals were keen falconers. Surprisingly, the humble sparrowhawk was the favourite of the mighty Emperor Akbar. In the Indus Valley, falconry was considered a life-sustaining instrument for the desert dwellers, while those from the green belts considered it as a noble art and used the falcons as symbol of high birth and luxury. Organized hunting parties would go out for game. Richard Burton, the famous 19th Century historian and translator, wrote extensively about falconry in the Indus Valley, citing the interesting practices of its communities in his book “The Valley of the Indus.”

In India, in the Rajput States - in Jaipur, Bhavnagar etc. the royal families continued to cherish the sport of hawking till the 1940s, but then partition and subsequent political problems did for falconry in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Nowadays, while there are many people who have paper knowledge of the birds, there are very few with practical knowledge left.In India there appear to be only three persons who possess the traditional skills. One of them is Col. Osman (Brother of King Zaeer Shah of Afghanistan); the others are Shantanu Kumar and Shahid Khan, both of Jaipur whose ancestors were professional falconers to Kumar Shree Dharmakumarsinghji, brother of the Maharaja of Bhavnagar.

Modern Pakistan, since partition from India and the loss of royal patronage, has had no falconry. The new state’s modern laws of the 1950s banned falconry to Pakistanis. However, hunting tourism is permitted and since the 1960’s wealthy foreigners have paid for the privilege of hawking there. This has led to problems– when commercialism enters common sense exits, but regulation has finally come and trappers must be licensed and are restricted to 15. Conservation groups like Falcons International (itself funded by Arab falconers) are now demanding a zero quota. The Environmental Agency of Abu Dhabi and Falcon Foundation International Pakistan have joined hands to work for the conservation of falcons, including the annual release of falcons into the wild under the Falcon Release Programme. These annual releases include falcons from several Gulf States that have spent a season hawking legally as well as illegal birds confiscated from smugglers. The confiscation of those illegal birds is part of the country’s efforts to implement stricter wildlife trade regulations.

Because of connections with the Arab market, Pakistan is the foremost producer of falconry equipment in the world.
"


Not sure about the last line above but a member of pakguns owns a few faclons

http://www.pakguns.com/showthread.php?7 ... t=falconry


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Re: Falconry In India

Post by nagarifle » Sat Dec 25, 2010 9:54 pm

Richard Burton? did he not write the kamare suter? or something like that. :D

i would have thought that falconry would have lived on in Rajastan ? have seen some in the UK but would like to see them in India as well, there is noting like the joy of a falcon flying past one. but since hunting is banned i wonder if we have any left in India? saying that there are plenty of kits flying over Delhi.
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Re: Falconry In India

Post by Katana » Sat Dec 25, 2010 9:57 pm

ngrewal,

You have touched a raw nerve here. It is indeed true that the Rajput States did indulge and promote the sport of falconry, including some rather small and insignificant States in Gujarat and Kathiawar. I have known the Bhavnagar family for some time and and have seen some amazing films, including that of cheetah coursing, apart from falconry. I am also a proud possessor of a copy of Dharmakumarsinhji's (or Dhama Bapa as he was known) 'Birds of Saurashtra'. This is a seminal work on ornithology on which a lot of specialists,including Dr. Salim Ali, based their work.

The last of the Bhavanagar falcons was gifted to a friend of mine in Baroda and I have an interesting anecdote about this. It so happened that the videographers went missing one fine morning during my wedding (I got married in Baroda). People were pressed into service to locate the video crew to film an early morning ceremony. Unable to find them, I was asked where they could be. I inquired who else was missing and was given a list of names, all of whom were wildlife enthusiasts. Putting two and two together I asked them to go to my friend's house and check. Sure enough all of them were busy filming the falcon during its morning exercises. Obviously, the videographers, being from Bombay had never seen something like this, wherein a bird could obey a set of commands! Anyway, the videographers were told to keep the part of the falcon exercising in my wedding video and I still have it, although in VHS format. If its possible I shall try and upload it.

Some of the people present that morning on 14th. December 1997 are members here :) .
Last edited by Katana on Sat Dec 25, 2010 10:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Falconry In India

Post by sa_ali » Sat Dec 25, 2010 10:12 pm

I am sure that many members here would just love to see that those video :D

Waiting eagerly

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Re: Falconry In India

Post by prashantsingh » Sat Dec 25, 2010 11:02 pm

Katana wrote:ngrewal,
You have touched a raw nerve here. It is indeed true that the Rajput States did indulge and promote the sport of falconry, including some rather small and insignificant States in Gujarat and Kathiawar .
Falconry was probably introduced in India by the Muslim rulers. The Rajputs perhaps picked it up from them. There is a Pathan family in Doon which kept falcons till very recently. Interestingly they are descendants of the extended royal family which was exiled after the Anglo-Afghan wars.

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Re: Falconry In India

Post by TwoRivers » Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:53 am

In Afghanistan, falconry persisted through the 1950s, at least. With the later troubled times and strife, it probably has died. It was common to see falconers in the country side, mostly with Saker falcons. I kept four myself at a time, but released them after a while since I could not get out of town often enough to exercise them. The practice of sewing shut the eyes of newly caught falcons, to more easily tame them, seemed a cruel way of taming the birds.

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Re: Falconry In India

Post by DAN » Sun Dec 26, 2010 4:45 pm

If you use facebook here's a Hunting page with a collection of really good, quality pics that are found nowhere on facebook, that make it the best hunting group on fb.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hunting/2 ... 8871353537

Here's some decent falconry pics
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hunting/2 ... 8871353537
:cheers:

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Re: Falconry In India

Post by ngrewal » Sun Dec 26, 2010 10:31 pm

Never realized we had so many falconry enthusiastic's . Katana that video can be easily converted ask studio chaps looking forward to it. tworivers o post pictures if possible or your experience in training these birds. Could you dwell on sealing the eyes. I read some more about it refer below.

Prashant - they arent descendants of Jan Fishan khan later made nawab of Saradhana -- BTW Actor Naseerudin Shah and his elder Brother Lt Gen Zaheerudin Shah is part of this extended family including cricketer Owais Shah from UK http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan-Fishan_Khan

http://www.africahunting.com/content/2- ... kings-605/

The Mughals in India were also keen falconers. The sparrow hawk was the favourite of Emperor Akbar. He often used these remarkable birds for hunting. They also added splendour to his court. For them many mansabdars ( commanders), ahadis (single man) and other soldiers were employed. The birds were fed twice a day and towards the close of each day they were fed on sparrows of which the baz, jurrah and bahri got seven each.

Man’s special favourite, the falcon possesses several unique characteristics and exhibits qualities of individuality and royal personage so desirable to man. Falcons are birds of open country, solitary in habit and prefer to fly freely scouring the countryside with their acute sight and pausing in their majestic flight to stoop down at a hundred miled an hour on their unsuspecting prey.

The peregrine falcon, the finest bird for training in India, migrates along the east coast of Bhavnagar in Gujarat on the boarder of the Gulf of Cambay. It is an aggressive and fearless bird, a superb flier with complete and easy mastery of the air. The peregrine is also known as the duck hawk and is found throughout the world. There are about 18 different species described from different areas. They are medium sized falcons with short tails, sharply pointed long wings and stocky bodies. These birds are able to lift heavy prey as their primary wing feathers are long and slender facilitating speed in flight, the inner secondary are broad and can give tremendous amount of strength. The adult male has a blue grey back and the head is a dark flush slate. The area around the eyes is black and the upper breast is white or buff with black spots and the rest of the under part is dark. The tail is grey, blackish towards the end, tipped with white and heavily barred.

When hunting it is the fastest bird on earth both in stopping or straight pursuit. It can kill its prey in midair with its long hind killing toe. Often the impact of landing itself renders the prey immobile as while stooping the peregrine reaches a speed of 150 to 200 miles per hour. This is one or the reason why a peregrine can kill prey twice as heavy as itself like teal, partridge, grouse. Other falcons found in Bhavnagar are the desert falcon known as the lugger and goshawk or baz which can be trained very successfully.

In Bhavnagar the royal family continued to cherish the sport of hawking till the 40s. the late Maharaja, Shri Krishna Kumar Singh’s two brothers, Maharaja Nirmal Kumar Singh and Maharaja Dharam Kumar Singh were very enthusiastic sportsmen. They each had their own trainers and falcons. The falcons were caught on the coast of Bhavnagar or brought from Punjab. According to Maharaja Nirmal Kumar Singh, it is customary for these falcons to hunt in pairs. Regarding capturing and training of these wild birds, he says a decoy is fastened on an upright net and on seeing the decoy, the falcon stoops down to catch its prey and gets hopelessly entangled. Falcons were caught and kept for just one season and then set free.

After it is caught the falcon is securely bound in a handkerchief and its eyes are sealed. This is done by slipping a needle through the lower edge of the eyelid and putting the thread over the head. Apparently the falcon shows no sign of pain. In this manner the eastern falconers seal the eyes of their hunting birds. This keeps them quiet for the rest of the training days and prevents them from becoming excited and scared. The bird also gets used to the human voice and touch. Maharaja Nirmal Kumar also added that buying a hawk is like buying a horse. The colour phases, marking, shape, size of beak and middle toe, spirit, age and weight are a few points worth considering Indian falconers would never buy a falcon whose eyes were not sealed. Sealed eyes were an indication that the hawks had not been tramed.

Asked about the training of these birds, he says the new hawk never leaves the gloved hand of its trainer for four to five days. Day and night they are handled carefully by speaking to them softly and stroking them gently and constantly for only then can these wild birds be trained.

As soon as the hawks lose their fear and become docile, their eyes are unsealed and the training days begin. The trained swings a lure at the end of a short stick and the falcon stoops but the bait is jerked away before the bird can strike. After 40 to 50 attempts the falcon is permitted to strike and bring the lure down to the ground. It is indeed a wonderful sight to see these hawks starting to respond to their trainers. After this lesson the birds are hooded and well fed. Before a contest or a hunt the birds are given secret Indian drugs to stimulate them to have the utmost powers of speed, courage and endurance. Falcons, being good hunters with keen eyesight, can bring down big birds like ibis, cranes, big heron and among animals, hares. When the game rises, the falconer throws the hawk to catch its prey just like an athlete hurls a goal forward. But vigorous training is absolutely necessary to teach the little fighters how to chase such a quarry. In game hunting, pointers and setters are used and not until the game is found is the falcon unhooded.

Sometimes it is interesting to observe how an old hoody crow tries to outwit a falcon. The crow will try its best to get cover under bushes, ledges or anything in sight but if it is unfortunately on open ground the quarry must then try to beat the falcon in the air and keep above her. Once he does this he tries above her. Once he does this he tries to stoop downwards to take cover twisting and turning. This is a dramatic and exciting sight with the crow not always being the lucky one.

In India falcons and hawks constitute two thirds of all species of birds or prey. The uncommon goshawks and the perennial favourite, the peregrine span the Indian sub-continent.

However, the sport of falcony has been fast losing popularity not only due to the expenses involved but also due to wide criticism and an increasing awareness of preserving nature and wildlife. There has been a dwindling of the species. In fact the king of falcons, the bullet-headed, steel grey peregrine became almost extinct due to excess DDT in the environment causing the bird to lay eggs with fragile shells leading to greater prehatch mortality. However, people were quick to champion this much loves bird and save it from imminent peril.

The Mughals in India were also keen falconers. The sparrow hawk was the favourite of Emperor Akbar. He often used these remarkable birds for hunting. They also added splendour to his court. For them many mansabdars ( commanders), ahadis (single man) and other soldiers were employed. The birds were fed twice a day and towards the close of each day they were fed on sparrows of which the baz, jurrah and bahri got seven each.

Man’s special favourite, the falcon possesses several unique characteristics and exhibits qualities of individuality and royal personage so desirable to man. Falcons are birds of open country, solitary in habit and prefer to fly freely scouring the countryside with their acute sight and pausing in their majestic flight to stoop down at a hundred miled an hour on their unsuspecting prey.

The peregrine falcon, the finest bird for training in India, migrates along the east coast of Bhavnagar in Gujarat on the boarder of the Gulf of Cambay. It is an aggressive and fearless bird, a superb flier with complete and easy mastery of the air. The peregrine is also known as the duck hawk and is found throughout the world. There are about 18 different species described from different areas. They are medium sized falcons with short tails, sharply pointed long wings and stocky bodies. These birds are able to lift heavy prey as their primary wing feathers are long and slender facilitating speed in flight, the inner secondary are broad and can give tremendous amount of strength. The adult male has a blue grey back and the head is a dark flush slate. The area around the eyes is black and the upper breast is white or buff with black spots and the rest of the under part is dark. The tail is grey, blackish towards the end, tipped with white and heavily barred.

When hunting it is the fastest bird on earth both in stopping or straight pursuit. It can kill its prey in midair with its long hind killing toe. Often the impact of landing itself renders the prey immobile as while stooping the peregrine reaches a speed of 150 to 200 miles per hour. This is one or the reason why a peregrine can kill prey twice as heavy as itself like teal, partridge, grouse. Other falcons found in Bhavnagar are the desert falcon known as the lugger and goshawk or baz which can be trained very successfully.

In Bhavnagar the royal family continued to cherish the sport of hawking till the 40s. the late Maharaja, Shri Krishna Kumar Singh’s two brothers, Maharaja Nirmal Kumar Singh and Maharaja Dharam Kumar Singh were very enthusiastic sportsmen. They each had their own trainers and falcons. The falcons were caught on the coast of Bhavnagar or brought from Punjab. According to Maharaja Nirmal Kumar Singh, it is customary for these falcons to hunt in pairs. Regarding capturing and training of these wild birds, he says a decoy is fastened on an upright net and on seeing the decoy, the falcon stoops down to catch its prey and gets hopelessly entangled. Falcons were caught and kept for just one season and then set free.

After it is caught the falcon is securely bound in a handkerchief and its eyes are sealed. This is done by slipping a needle through the lower edge of the eyelid and putting the thread over the head. Apparently the falcon shows no sign of pain. In this manner the eastern falconers seal the eyes of their hunting birds. This keeps them quiet for the rest of the training days and prevents them from becoming excited and scared. The bird also gets used to the human voice and touch. Maharaja Nirmal Kumar also added that buying a hawk is like buying a horse. The colour phases, marking, shape, size of beak and middle toe, spirit, age and weight are a few points worth considering Indian falconers would never buy a falcon whose eyes were not sealed. Sealed eyes were an indication that the hawks had not been tramed.

Asked about the training of these birds, he says the new hawk never leaves the gloved hand of its trainer for four to five days. Day and night they are handled carefully by speaking to them softly and stroking them gently and constantly for only then can these wild birds be trained.

As soon as the hawks lose their fear and become docile, their eyes are unsealed and the training days begin. The trained swings a lure at the end of a short stick and the falcon stoops but the bait is jerked away before the bird can strike. After 40 to 50 attempts the falcon is permitted to strike and bring the lure down to the ground. It is indeed a wonderful sight to see these hawks starting to respond to their trainers. After this lesson the birds are hooded and well fed. Before a contest or a hunt the birds are given secret Indian drugs to stimulate them to have the utmost powers of speed, courage and endurance. Falcons, being good hunters with keen eyesight, can bring down big birds like ibis, cranes, big heron and among animals, hares. When the game rises, the falconer throws the hawk to catch its prey just like an athlete hurls a goal forward. But vigorous training is absolutely necessary to teach the little fighters how to chase such a quarry. In game hunting, pointers and setters are used and not until the game is found is the falcon unhooded.

Sometimes it is interesting to observe how an old hoody crow tries to outwit a falcon. The crow will try its best to get cover under bushes, ledges or anything in sight but if it is unfortunately on open ground the quarry must then try to beat the falcon in the air and keep above her. Once he does this he tries above her. Once he does this he tries to stoop downwards to take cover twisting and turning. This is a dramatic and exciting sight with the crow not always being the lucky one.

In India falcons and hawks constitute two thirds of all species of birds or prey. The uncommon goshawks and the perennial favourite, the peregrine span the Indian sub-continent.

However, the sport of falcony has been fast losing popularity not only due to the expenses involved but also due to wide criticism and an increasing awareness of preserving nature and wildlife. There has been a dwindling of the species. In fact the king of falcons, the bullet-headed, steel grey peregrine became almost extinct due to excess DDT in the environment causing the bird to lay eggs with fragile shells leading to greater prehatch mortality. However, people were quick to champion this much loves bird and save it from imminent peril.

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Re: Falconry In India

Post by TwoRivers » Mon Dec 27, 2010 1:11 am

ngreval(Navi?): That was in my early to mid teens, and I don't think I have any pictures anymore. The family photo albums went to my brother when my parents passed away, and unfortunately burned in storage.

In Afghanistan, the hawk's eyelids were actually sewn shut together. The thread would fester out in about two to three weeks.

The peregrine, at least, strikes backwards with its claws as it passes over its prey, as high-speed photography has shown. Not with its hind claw, as formerly believed. It's a devastating backward strike.

After I gave up on the Sakers, I had a young kestrel ("sparrow hawk") as a pet for about a year. A very intelligent, clever, friendly, and entertaining bird. Also two kites with broken wing, which were kept in the garden, male and female. The female became quite tame, the male never quite did. They always attracted magpies, which then became their supper.

Regards.

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Re: Falconry In India

Post by ngrewal » Tue Dec 28, 2010 5:05 am

tworivers

Yup its Navi -- I saw one you tube video from National geographic on speed at which Hawk (not sure about type swoops down it was recorded at 200 mph plus ( unless I heard it wrong or mixed the KPH metrics) .
Thanks for sharing the info

best

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Re: Falconry In India

Post by TwoRivers » Tue Dec 28, 2010 11:42 am

Yup, they are just a blurr when they strike, I have twice been lucky enough to see a peregrine strike, once on a duck, once on a shore bird, and it's truly something to behold.

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Re: Falconry In India

Post by mohd_adeel » Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:28 am

Ngrewal,

Hi Brother,

Hope you doing well! You wanted to know about Shahid Khan and Shantanu Kumar
Well Shantanu kumar (Ex. DIG) unfortunately died recently in December 2010 and Shahid Khan is one of my dear friends
Please tell me what would you like to know or share

Regards

Adil.

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Re: Falconry In India

Post by ngrewal » Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:09 am

Hi Adil

Sorry to hear about Mr Kumar's demise..we were just trying to gather some information on this great sport which is loosing its masters and with them the knowledge. If possible do reach out to Mr Khan and see if you can post some more information on this royal sport .

Thanks

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Re: Falconry In India

Post by captrakshitsharma » Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:19 pm

I will soon have a good write up and detailed info on falconry and falconry in india.. My father is closely associated and heads a falcon facility in dubai... just a lil short of time right now will get back soon on the subject and DR. Prashant is right the afghan famly in doon did have falcon till the recent past.
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Re: Falconry In India

Post by hunterjack » Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:58 pm

what are the rules and regualtions of keeping birds of prey as pet or for such training purposes in india.
last time i heard its illegal to keep them. if its legal then this sport can still be revived here with professional guidance. what a sight it must be to see these birds in action
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