The practice of hunting with birds of prey is thought to stretch back thousands of years. In early nomadic societies, falconry was used to hunt animals to provide food and clothing in places such as the steppes of Central Asia. As the practice spread, falconry evolved into a pastime that attracted the elite of European society, reflected in the extensive iconography of noblemen and women and their falcons. Today falconry is found in more than 90 countries around the world.
At its core remains the importance of the relationship between falconer and the bird of prey, a bond unlike any other between man and beast.
But although falconry has been classed as intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO, there are challenges to its survival. And some argue that falconry itself is exploitative.
Rajan Datar is joined by the president of the International Association for Falconry, His Excellency Majid al-Mansouri; Adrian Lombard, Chair of the South African Falconry Association; art historian Anne-Lise Tropato, the first Falconry Research Fellow at New York University Abu Dhabi, and social anthropologist Sara Asu Schroer who's researched the relationships between falconers and birds of prey through fieldwork in Britain and Europe.
Produced by Fiona Clampin for the BBC World Service
[Image: Emirati Ali Mansouri trains a falcon in the Liwa desert. Credit: KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty Images]
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