A hospital specializing in the care and treatment of falcons in Qatar helps keep birds in top shape. Soren Larson reports.
Falconry is a popular sport in the Gulf countries. But if you're a falcon owner and your prized bird gets injured or needs medical attention, you can't expect an ordinary veterinarian to be able to properly care for it. That's where Qatar's new Souq Waqif Falcon Hospital comes in. The center provides a variety of treatments for the birds, from general check-ups to endoscopies and even fractured bone repairs. Hospital manager Iqdam Majid Al-Karkhi says the doctors can even repair damaged lungs. SOUNDBITE: Iqdam Majid Al-Karkhi, Souq Waqif Falcon Hospital Manager, saying (Arabic): "Respiratory diseases are considered the most difficult diseases that we deal with. Such diseases may infect the air sacs or the lungs; which may cause permanent damage to the bird. Even if we cure the disease, the damage might affect the falcon's fitness. By this, I mean its speed, ability to trace, or the level of performance expected by its owner." Falcon owner Matter Al-Kuwari says having facilities that specialize in falcon medicine are crucial to keeping the sport alive. (SOUNDBITE) Matter Al-Kuwari, falcon owner, saying (Arabic) "This helps falcon owners to better maintain the health of their falcons. Some people buy expensive falcons. So, if there were no hospital or medical care, they would lose this hobby." In a region where tradition matters, keeping the ancient sport of kings thriving, is no small feat.