Falcons over Texas : a look at those still practicing an ancient tradition today
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Falconry has existed on our planet for thousands of years, and permeated nearly every culture and continent. Wherever there have been birds of prey, falconers emerged alongside them. The use of tools played a key development in human evolution – but what is often overlooked is the use of other animals as tools. Humans learned to use mammals to hunt and work the land, but birds of prey are a step removed from us. The use of falcons was originally to obtain food, but in time it became a cultural tradition, a mark of nobility, or even a simple hobby. Falconry today stands to illustrate cultural and environmental significance. In 2016, UNESCO inscribed falconry as a living human heritage element of more than a dozen countries. Falconry holds for most, a connection to the past. Though some technologies have changed, the practice has largely remained unchanged for centuries. In the US, where hunting is regulated by the government, acquiring a falconry permit is a lengthy and traditional ordeal, one that requires an apprentice to capture their own bird from the wild, and train under a mentor for two years. Falconry also plays a role in “hunting as conservation,” a theme that is often overlooked or misunderstood. For hunters, it embodies the concept of ethical hunting and the role it can play in protecting the balance of species. Falconry takes many shapes today, but its practice tells a story of humans that is often forgotten, and is a reminder of the indifference of nature; a bird of prey feeding on its prey summons primordial feelings that remind us of our hunter-gatherer roots, where existence and survival were a constant struggle. This report focuses on the visual beauty of falconry through a series of photographs of process and portrait, with a narrative text to illustrate the key components of the sport.