The concept of falconry is indeed intriguing. A trained bird of prey is used to hunt wild preys in their natural state and habitat. Those who are falconry enthusiasts know very well that this is an art which demands hours of dedication, time, energy, finesse and skill. Now this ancient art form is going to receive a tech boost and that too in the form of drones.
As per recent New Scientist Aviva Rutkin reports, falconers can now take the help of specialized drones to precisely teach their birds techniques like chasing and catching prey. A U.K.-based company named WingBeat has come forward to help in this unique venture by introducing a concept called “rofalconry”, i.e. the art of falconry where robotic preys are used instead of live ones.
Robera is the name of the drone created by this company. A look at the drone and you will indeed find it fascinating! It is precisely designed to look and behave like the very favorite prey bird of falconers i.e., the houbara bustard. The falconer can control his robot from the ground. The drone is precisely designed with all those flying and hunting techniques which any human falcon owner would like to have in his bird of prey.
In recent times, drones for hunting have been vehemently opposed by certain States in America and by some social activists. Now that the ancient art of falconry is also getting intruded by drones, this is not making falconry purists very happy. Many of them have already expressed opinions that when raptors aren’t hunting wild games, then it can’t be called real falconry.
WingBeat of course have its line of defense ready. The company says that their designed drones come up with a bunch of benefits which modern falconers would find really helpful. The first benefit being they won’t need huge hunting grounds to allow their birds to practice. Also the concept opens up possibilities for some interesting “rofalcony competitions” where falconry enthusiasts without prior knowledge, can have fun flying their falcons together at the same venue.
The robotic bird would pacify environmentalists too, who don’t support the idea of using drones for hunting and chasing. The company claims that it is actually protecting the threatened species houbara bustard from extinction. If falconers switch to robotic birds of prey that means one more houbara or other prey animal survives for a day.
It should be noted in this regard that several countries have already banned killing of these precious birds. However this has resulted in growing incidents of illegal catch-and-trade in many parts. Wingbeat feels that drones can indeed make a difference to falconry and help this ancient art form to survive. With ‘Robera’, the falconry can turn into a totally sustainable sport while ensuring great conservation benefits for threatened species.
With its flapping wings and lycra skin, the Robera is all set to give falconers a feel of the real thing. Whether it can sustain growing criticism of environmentalists and falconry traditionalists, that only time will tell.