Shocking size and beauty in rescued Falcons
Shortly after, Russia’s agency for nature management (Rosprirodnadzor) handed over the birds to IFAW’s Sergey Ganusevich to undergo rehabilitation and release efforts in a bid to save some of the last remaining Gyrfalcons in Russia.
Sergey has cared for raptors for more than 30 years as a scientist and expert rehabilitator. In all his years, he had yet to see birds of this magnificent size and grace. Even under poor body condition, the birds weighed between 1.87 and 2.1 kg! The average weight of a female gyrfalcon in good conditions is around 1.8 kg. With birds this size, Sergey believes that at least two of the six individuals could have been sold for over $100,000 USD each. Falconry fuels an expensive and illegal business over international borders that pay no respect for the animal victims that are smuggled.
At the moment all 6 birds are still alive. Packed tightly within a cardboard paper box, the birds are shipped in very poor conditions and those lucky enough to be rescued are immediately provided with veterinary care and feed. The falcons show up dangerously underfed and needing proper rehabilitation before they can gain their freedom back. With these six birds, only 1 has begun to feed by itself so the rest of them need to be force-fed in order to keep them alive.
Approximately 100 Gyrfalcons are illegally traded from Russia every year. Just 4 months ago, 38 Gyrfalcons were seized in a single operation. More often than not, these stunning birds end up being used for the “sport” of falconry practiced in the Middle East. Half of these birds are caught on the peninsula of Kamchatka in Russia’s Far East. Unfortunately the demand for these birds is increasing - placing tremendous pressure on a dwindling population in Russia that numbers an estimated 1000 pairs.
If everything goes according to plan in the next 10 days, the birds will be ready to head back to Kamchatka (a 9-hour airplane ride from where they are now) to be released back to the wild.