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Hawks become doves

The ancient sport of falconry is today seeing quite a revival, but amongst the fun and pageantry, political issues are simmering away. A number of falconers are currently petitioning Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, head of the United Arab Emirates Falconers Club and the Hunting and Safari Club. This latter group is involved in negotiations to lease land from the Hadzabe tribe in Tanzania. That in itself is not a problem, as the tribe is amenable as long as they can continue to coexist on it. However, the Tanzanian Government plans to take them off the land and relocate them in ‘shanty towns’.

The tribe of hunters and gatherers, which lives on 4,000 square kilometres of land near Lake Eyasi, is one of the oldest indigenous groups on the planet. Their right to their land and their way of life is under threat, and a storm of protest is gathering worldwide, resulting in the request to Sheikh Hamdan to review the case personally and see that the Hadzabe are treated with respect. This is not the first time that falconers have got together and used their influence to resolve complicated legal issues – the most famous being their contribution to banning the use of DDT in 1972.

New Internationalist issue 405 magazine cover This article is from the October 2007 issue of New Internationalist.
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