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Falconers in Abu Dhabi Train Their Raptors With Drones

Illustration for article titled Falconers in Abu Dhabi Train Their Raptors With Drones

In the United Arab Emirates, falconry is one of the oldest and most treasured traditions. The sport dates back to an age when falcons were used to hunt food. Today, it's a social affair. Even the drones join in the fun.

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Getty photographer Dan Kitwood recently went to Abu Dhabi, where he spent time with a group of friends who gathered in the evening to train their raptors (a.k.a. birds of prey). In one exercise, they used drones to float lures full of food which the the birds would snatch mid-flight. The presence of the quadcopter is undoubtedly a 21st-century addition, but adorning a lure flying displays with a bit of showmanship is a centuries' old tradition. Still looks cool, too.

Illustration for article titled Falconers in Abu Dhabi Train Their Raptors With Drones
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A falcon perched on a wafer of fake grass waiting to be flown.

Illustration for article titled Falconers in Abu Dhabi Train Their Raptors With Drones

A close up of a falcon on sale at a shop in Abu Dhabi. Note the hand-painted decorations on the meticulously made hood.

Illustration for article titled Falconers in Abu Dhabi Train Their Raptors With Drones
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In the absence of a drone, a lure may be displayed with a long stick.

Illustration for article titled Falconers in Abu Dhabi Train Their Raptors With Drones
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A man returns home with his falcon perched on a leather glove outside his car window.

Illustration for article titled Falconers in Abu Dhabi Train Their Raptors With Drones
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More falcons on sale in a shop, where they may fetch tens of thousands of dollars.

Illustration for article titled Falconers in Abu Dhabi Train Their Raptors With Drones
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It's like cat nip but for falcons.

Illustration for article titled Falconers in Abu Dhabi Train Their Raptors With Drones
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A group of friends pose with their falcons in the early evening moonlight.

Illustration for article titled Falconers in Abu Dhabi Train Their Raptors With Drones
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Many men form deep bonds with their raptors. Here's one, standing in the red glow of a trucks tail lights.

All images by Dan Kitwood / Getty

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