Falconers in Abu Dhabi Train Their Raptors With Drones

By Adam Clark Estes on at

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

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.

Falconers in Abu Dhabi Train Their Raptors With Drones

A falcon perched on a wafer of fake grass waiting to be flown.

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.

Falconers in Abu Dhabi Train Their Raptors With Drones

In the absence of a drone, a lure may be displayed with a long stick.

Falconers in Abu Dhabi Train Their Raptors With Drones

A man returns home with his falcon perched on a leather glove outside his car window.

Falconers in Abu Dhabi Train Their Raptors With Drones

More falcons on sale in a shop, where they may fetch tens of thousands of dollars.

Falconers in Abu Dhabi Train Their Raptors With Drones

It's like cat nip but for falcons.

Falconers in Abu Dhabi Train Their Raptors With Drones

A group of friends pose with their falcons in the early evening moonlight.

Falconers in Abu Dhabi Train Their Raptors With Drones

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