Friday, February 27, 2015

New sport: soaring with birds over Nepal!

Wisdom Quarterly; Siddharth Gupta, Travel/

A new sport is born!
On a Himalayan mountainside, more than a dozen paragliding pilots were preparing to take off and ride the thermals over Nepal.

But I didn’t come here to see traditional paragliding. I came to witness parahawking -- that is, paragliding alongside trained birds of prey.

The unlikely sport was founded in 2001 by Scott Mason (pictured), a British paraglider and bird lover who wound up caring for an injured black vulture during a visit to Nepal.

In doing so, Mason learned that Asia’s vulture population was plummeting. An anti-inflammatory drug called Diclofenac that was being administered to sick livestock was also killing the vultures feeding on the animals’ carcasses. To raise awareness of the creatures’ plight, Mason founded, which offers people the chance to paraglide with the threatened birds. More

Michelle Zeidman fed Kevin -- a practice the bird had learned from Mason so that his passengers could see the raptors fly up close. Zeidman wore a pouch with buffalo meat and pulled out one piece at a time, keeping it hidden between her gloved thumb and forefinger. Mason blew a whistle, she extended her arm, and incredibly, the bird swooped in... (BBC)

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