Parahawking

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Parahawking is an activity that combines paragliding with falconry. Birds of prey are trained to fly with paragliders, guiding them to thermals.

Parahawking was developed by British falconer Scott Mason in 2001. Mason began a round-the-world trip in Pokhara, Nepal, where many birds of prey – such as the griffon vulture, steppe eagle and black kite – can be found. While taking a tandem paragliding flight with British paraglider Adam Hill, he had the opportunity to see raptors in flight, and realised that he could combine the sports of paragliding and falconry.[1]

The team started by training two black kites, but have since added two Egyptian vultures, Kevin and Bob, to the team. Only rescued birds are used – none of the birds have been taken from the wild.[citation needed]

Mason and Hill documented their endeavours, with help from colleague Graham Saunders-Griffiths, in a film entitled Parahawking. In addition to being named Best Debut Film at the 2003 Festival International du Film de Vol libre in St-Hilaire, France (held as part of the Coupe Icare), and winning top prize in the 'Air' category at the 5th Hory a Mesto international festival of mountain films in Slovakia,[2] Parahawking was a finalist in the category of 'Best Film on Mountain Sports' at the 2003 Banff Mountain Film Festival, and competed for the title of 'Best Documentary' at the 2004 Cervino International Film Festival.

Mason's work has been featured in many publications around the world, from falconry-related journals[3][4] and newsletters,[5] to paragliding publications,[6][7][8][9][10] mainstream magazines[11][12][13][14][15] and newspapers.[16][17][18][19]

Closure[edit]

Already in 2010 the Nepalese government announced that the Himalayan Raptor Rescue Centre in Pokhara is to be closed following allegations that it was illegally holding endangered birds and that the parahawking amounted to cruelty.[20][21] Despite these allegations parahawking stayed operational in Pokhara until 2017.

In February 2017 Mason announced that parahawking has been shut down:

Thank you so much for all your concern and support, I know many are still wondering what is going on, it's still a very sensitive time so I really can't go into too much detail just yet. However I can announce that at present there will be no more Parahawking in Nepal, our project has been closed down and our birds, including our beloved Kevin and Bob have been confiscated.

I appreciate that this is upsetting for many of you who have followed and supported us for MANY years. We are devastated, It's a difficult time for us all but we are working through it as a family and supported by many friends near and far.

Just to reassure you, Kevin, Bob, Sapana, Goggles and Brad are safe and well and we are working hard to ensure they are well cared for, this situation is on going but our priority is their welfare at this time.

Thank you all for believing in us and supporting us in our efforts to bring about awareness and support vulture conservation in Nepal. We have not given up, this chapter may be closed for now but there may be something exciting just around the corner. Watch this space!

Scott
[22]

On 15 February 2017 Mason announced on his Facebook page that the last ever parahawking flight in Nepal was performed with the vulture Bob and the passenger Paula Graham.[23]

Aftermath[edit]

The government of Nepal confiscated all birds. One of which was a booted eagle called Barry that had been given to the Parahawking Project for care by the British Embassy in Kathmandu after being mauled by a dog and had extensive feather damage. Barry was taken in by Kathmandu Central Zoo who insisted he was a black kite and eventually released him to a nearby forest despite not being able to fly at the time.[24]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Charlotte Rixon (5 January 2016), Meet the man who invented parahawking and who’s still fighting for Nepal’s vultures—15 years later, lovenature.com, retrieved 7 March 2017 
  2. ^ 'German film climbs to the festival's top', 3 May 2004
  3. ^ Article in The Austringer, journal of The Welsh Hawking Club, 2003
  4. ^ 'The Himalayan Parahawkers' by Scott Mason, The Falconers and Raptor Conservation Magazine, 2003
  5. ^ 'Flying a kite...', International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators newsletter, February 2008
  6. ^ 'From 9 to 5 to Feeling Alive!', Cross Country, 28 November 2005
  7. ^ 'Parahawking' by Richard Jennings, Cumbria Soaring Club newsletter, October 2007
  8. ^ 'L’homme oiseau, du rêve à la réalité' by Aurélie Cottier, Aerial, October–November 2007
  9. ^ 'Under the Wings of Kevin' by Jerome Maupoint, Cross Country, 28 February 2008
  10. ^ 'Unter Kevins Schwingen' by Louise Crandal, Gleitschirm, June 2008
  11. ^ 'Parahawking' by Aryn Baker, Time Asia, 15 November 2004
  12. ^ 'Things to Do Before You Die: Parahawking', FHM magazine, October 2005
  13. ^ 'News & Views: Parahawking', Action Asia, September 2007
  14. ^ 'Parahawking in Nepal' and 'High as a kite' by Joshua Iles, Outer Edge, April 2008
  15. ^ 'Soaring above Nepal with raptor guides' by Christina Ammon, Oregon Live, 10 April 2009
  16. ^ 'Gliders are hawking in the air' by Kathryn Lister, The Sun, 1 February 2007
  17. ^ 'Eagle eyed Scott is true wing man', Barking and Dagenham Recorder, 1 March 2007
  18. ^ 'Birds eye view of Nepal' by Graeme Green, Metro.co.uk, 11 January 2008
  19. ^ 'Where eagles dare: Parahawk with nature' by Jonathan Green, UK Mail on Sunday, 26 April 2008
  20. ^ Andrew Drummond (17 February 2010), Birdman of Dagenham's vulture rescue centre in Himalayas is grounded, EveningStandard, retrieved 7 March 2017 
  21. ^ Parahawking in Nepal under threat, CrossCountry, 18 February 2010, retrieved 7 March 2017 
  22. ^ Scott Hjertas Mason (13 February 2017), Parahawking shut down, retrieved 7 March 2017 
  23. ^ Scott Hjertas Mason (15 February 2017), Our last ever Parahawking flight in Nepal, retrieved 7 March 2017 
  24. ^ Scott Hjertas Mason (6 March 2017), RIP Barry, retrieved 7 March 2017 

External links[edit]