A Night of Falcon Trapping

A Night of Falcon Trapping video

After about a 6-hour long day break, the weather is back to a tolerable temperature and the team gets ready for the second hunting session of the day, which is usually the last one, unless they decide to go night hunting. Abu Yazin explained that night hunting is a relatively new practice that started about ten years ago. The technique involves going back to sites where birds were identified in hopes they have landed for the night. When the roosting bird is seen, the truck headlights are quickly shut off. One person takes a very bright light, often an ad hoc contraption involving amplification of a smartphone flashlight through a binocular lens, and then shines it at the bird to ‘freeze’ it while the truck inches forward. Then the light is shut off and the hunter, along with another person holding a large net affixed to a pole, jump off the truck, creep forward and when close enough, lunge at the bird with the net. If the targeted bird flies away or the net misses its mark, the truck resumes its search for that bird since they cannot fly very far in the dark. Just like all the other traps, the night hunting nets are handmade, during free time in between hunting sessions. Abu Saoud, who is a bird trap-making expert, worked on the net over the course of three days. This night hunting technique is surprisingly effective and a Steppe buzzard was captured on a practice run to test the equipment. Nighttime stalking often involves the capture of eagles and buzzards, birds that are commonly observed landing, but since they do not fetch a price, they are stalked primary for practice and entertainment, and are later released.

In Bedouin culture, their respect for birds and the world around them moderates their hunting activity. They do not view themselves as overhunting birds or having a major impact on the population decline, but instead attribute it to ‘others’ who capture birds by the masses in Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Russian Altai. The belief is that overexploitation of falcons in these end-member regions where migratory falcons breed means that fewer birds are migrating to Jordan, or over Jordan. According to Professor Khoury, Bedouin perceptions of the relationship between intensity of capture and bird population dynamics are not consistent with sustainability, so it opens the question of how long this tradition will last.