Local Judge Part Of Mongolian Delegation

Educating Mongolian leaders on the United States’ court system was the purpose of a delegation from the Texas Wesleyan University (TWU) School of Law on a recent 10-day trip to the former communist-ruled country.
The law school’s Asian Judicial Institute (AJI) has been working with the country since shortly after the Soviet block dissolved and a bloodless revolution led to the creation of a Democratic country in 1992.
Part of that work has been to assist with the creation of a court system similar to the United States.
That is where Hill County Judge Justin Lewis came in.
The judge hosted a fact-finding Mongolian delegation at the Hill County Courthouse last year, discussing how small-claims courts operate in Texas.
The delegation was led by Dr. Biraa Chimid, Ganzorig Gombosuren and Dashjamts Battulga.
Dr. Chimid is considered the father of the Mongolian constitution, and his daughter, Sanzaiya, served as interpreter for the group.
Gombosuren is a former member of the Mongolian Supreme Court and chief assistant prosecutor general for the country, and Battulga is chief of staff for the president.
As a result of his presentation, the judge was invited to be a part of the four-member delegation that made the trip to Mongolia and make a similar presentation at the Ikh Zasag University School of Law.
“I presented information to the future lawyers of the country,” Lewis explained. “Hopefully we can work together to find solutions to judicial reform in the country.”
The group was led by Joe Spurlock II, who is a professor at TWU law school and head of the AJI.
Two law students joined Spurlock and Lewis on the trip. While Lewis is also a law student, he was invited in his official capacity as county judge to continue discussions on the court system.
One example Lewis used on the complexity in the current Mongolian court system is that there are over 400 definitions for homicide.
In the legal system, if a crime is committed, there is a police investigation and prosecutors take the case to court. 
Because there are no speedy-trial guidelines, a person charged with a major crime could spend three to four years in jail before ever having their day in court because there is no system to post bail.
The opportunity to purchase property has only been an option in Mongolia for about 20 years, so not many people have collateral to put up for a bond like in the U.S.
In addition, defense attorneys have no right to conduct their own investigation into crimes to try and get their clients out of jail.
There were extended discussions about Texas’ juvenile-justice system since there is currently no means to handle most Mongolian juvenile offenders.
“If a suspect is 13 or younger there is no punishment, even if they commit a murder.
“On the other hand, if they are 14 or older, they are automatically tried as an adult,” the judge explained.
Much of the eight days the group was in the country were spent in the capital of Ulaanbataar, where approximately 45 percent of the country’s population lives.
While there, they met with Gombosuren and Gungaa Bayasgalan, state secretary of the Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs for the country.
Five judicial-reform bills were introduced in the country’s parliament while the delegation was visiting.
It took the group 20 hours by air to reach Mongolia, which is sandwiched between Russia and China. That included stops in Bejing, China both going and coming.
Each participant on the trip were responsible for their airfare, but lodging was either provided by the government or an apartment was utilized that is owned by two TWU law-school alumni who do business in Mongolia. 
The group journeyed outside of the capital for an overnight stay in Terelj National Park.
During a day trip, they also visited a 13-story tall stainless steel statue of Genghis Kahn on horseback. 
Kahn is considered by many as the father of Mongolia and ruled over the Mongol Empire around 1200.
They also visited a family living in a traditional ger or tent-like home. The judge noted that most Mongolians in the rural areas remain nomadic in nature, living in gers.
There are only three major highways leading out of Ulaanbataar. The maximum speed is about 40 miles per hour due to their condition.
The country, which is about the size of Alaska, is divided into 20 regions.
Sixty percent of the country’s economy is tied to the mining industry.


Mongolia sends condolences to North Korea over passing of top leader of North Korea

Mongolian state leaders, Prime Minister Batbold Sukhbaatar and President Elbegdorj sent condolences to Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) over passing of late North Korean leader Kim Jon Il. 

Also individual Mongolian politicians and organizations and residents  sent condolences to North Korea. See below.

Pyongyang, December 27 (KCNA) -- The dear respected Kim Jong Un received a message of condolences from M. Enkhsaihan, chairman of the National Democratic Party of Mongolia, on Dec. 22.
The message expressed deep condolences over the demise of Kim Jong Il, general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission and dear leader of the Korean People.
It said that Kim Jong Il devoted all his life to the people's happiness and he will live forever in the hearts of not only the Korean people but all the people supporting and respecting his cause.
It expressed profound gratitude to Kim Jong Il for the concern he had shown for the development of the friendly and cooperative relations between Mongolia and the DPRK.

Wreaths from Mongolian Organizations and Personage
Pyongyang, December 27 (KCNA) -- Wreaths came from the Mongolian organizations and a personage to mourn the demise of leader Kim Jong Il.
They are the Mongolian Committee for Mourning HE Kim Jong Il, Kim Il Sung Class in Altanbulag County, Tov Province and Kim Jong Il Class in Gor King-Erdene Institute of Teachers, Kim Jong Il Kindergarten and N. Batmonh, administrative governor of Altanbolag County, Tov Province.
The wreaths were laid before the bier of Kim Jong Il at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace on Tuesday. 

Committees for Mourning Demise Formed in Mongolia
Pyongyang, December 27 (KCNA) -- The Mongolian Committee for mourning the demise of Kim Jong Il, the great leader of the Korean people, was inaugurated with due ceremony in Ulan Bator on December 23.
The participants observed a moment's silence to mourn the demise of Kim Jong Il.
The ceremony introduced the brief history of the revolutionary activities of Kim Jong Il. Then, Ch. Surenjav, chairman of the Mongolia-Korea Friendship Society, referred to the immortal feats Kim Jong Il performed for the victory of the socialist cause and the accomplishment of the human cause of independence.
The ceremony made public a list of members of the mourning committee and an action plan.

Mongolian High-ranking Officials Visits DPRK Embassy
Pyongyang, December 24 (KCNA) -- High-ranking officials of Mongolia visited the DPRK embassy in Ulan Bator on Tuesday to mourn the demise of leader Kim Jong Il. They included Gombojab Zandanshatar, minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the minister of Foodstuff, Agriculture and Light Industry, the minister of Social Protection and Labor, D.Tsakhilgaan, president of the Federation of Peace and Friendship Organizations of Mongolia, and D. Bilegt, its general secretary, and Ch. Surenjav, chairman of the Mongolia-Korea Friendship Society.
They laid a floral basket and bouquets before the portrait of Kim Jong Il and expressed condolences.
They made entries in the condolence book.

Mongolian Senior Officials Visit DPRK Embassy to Mourn Demise of Kim Jong Il
Pyongyang, December 23 (KCNA) -- Delegations of the state, the government and the People's Party of Mongolia on Tuesday called at the DPRK embassy in Ulan Bator to express condolences over the demise of leader Kim Jong Il.
The delegations laid floral baskets before the portrait of Kim Jong Il and paid silent tribute.
N. Enkhbold, vice-chairman of the State Great Hural of Mongolia, said:
On behalf of the State Great Hural and the presidential secretariat of Mongolia, I would like to express deep condolences over the passing away of His Excellency Kim Jong Il.
I believe that the traditional relations of friendship and cooperation between Mongolia and the DPRK will continue to strengthen.
The vice-chairman of the State Great Hural, the advisor for foreign policy to the prime minister and a secretary of the People's Party, who were heading the delegations, made entries in the condolence book.

Source:Korea Central News Agency

100th anniversary of Mongolian Independence Day-Dec 29, 1911-Dec 29, 2011

One hundred years ago, this day Mongolia declared its independence during the collapse of the Qing Dynasty.
However, it wasn't until Mongolia declared its independence from China on Nov. 26, 1924, that Mongolia adopted its first constitution. Therefore, Nov. 26 is considered Mongolia's Independence Day. 

Read more about Mongolia's history below.

November 26 is a national Mongolian holiday. November 26, 1924 was the day that Mongolia declared itself as an independent country with the adoption of its first constitution. The Mongolian People’s Republic (MPR), a communist state, under the rule of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP), lasted until 1990.
Although, November 26 is the day that Mongolia turned into an official communist country, it’s still celebrated today as the day Mongolia gained its independence once and for all. Mongolia had been under Chinese rule by varying degrees of force for centuries. When the last dynasty of China, the Manchurian Qing Dynasty, fell in 1911, Bogd Khaan, the Holy King, declared Mongolia’s independence. This, however, wasn’t recognized by the new Chinese government.
Bogd Khaan
Bogd Khaan
After many failed attempts to declare and fight for Mongolian independence, Mongolia turned to Russia for help. In 1915, the Khyagta talks took place between China, Russia, and Mongolia in order to discuss the political status of Mongolia.The Khyagta meetings resulted in the decision to split Outer and Inner Mongolia and give them limited autonomy under Chinese rule.
In 1919, with the distraction of the Russian revolution, the Chinese returned to Mongolia and forcefully occupied the capital city. The Mongolian government was required to sign a document that forfeited their autonomous status. Once again, Mongolia looked to Russian Bolsheviks for assistance. The Outer Mongolian Revolution took place in 1921, with the assistance of Soviet troops to overtake Ulaanbaatar from the Chinese. On July 11, 1921, the People’s Government of Mongolia was declared with China’s defeat. From 1921 until 1924, Mongolia worked to establish a new government and finalized this with its constitution on November 26, 1924.
As I was researching this blog post and asking my Mongolian friends the history of this holiday, I found that many of them weren’t sure of the history, themselves. Many of them thought of Mongolian Independence Day as a day off from work to be with their families and friends. I had to ask quite a few people and search through many articles on the Internet to piece together this short history piece.
By Amber Barger is currently serving as a Kiva Fellow in Mongolia. She has lived for the past two years in rural Mongolia as a community economic development Peace Corps Volunteer. Along with her Kiva Fellowship, she is extending a third year with the Peace Corps as a Peace Corps Volunteer Leader.

Mongolia Spending Glut Risks Bust on Commodity Outlook, IMF Says

By Yuriy Humber
Dec. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia’s economy, which grew 20.8 percent last quarter, risks contraction along with a global downturn in commodity prices partly due to a surge in state spending, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Government spending jumped 50 percent in real terms to 6.3 trillion tugrik ($4.6 billion) this year, pushing inflation in the $8.4-billion-economy to 14 percent, Steven Bennett, IMF’s head of Mongolia coverage, said in an interview in Tokyo. That may drive up borrowing costs and cut the profitability of mining projects, Mongolia’s biggest industry, he said.
“The global economy is in a dangerous phase and what that means for Mongolia is a higher-than-normal chance that commodity prices fall,” Bennett said. “Their spending plans could not be realistically financed if there was a repeat of the 2008 shock. They’d have to cut spending. This is ‘boom-bust’ policy- making.”
Mongolia, which needs to invest as much as $68 billion within four years in new mines, roads, and housing, contracted by 1.3 percent in 2009 due to the global economic crisis. As the country’s development bank begins the sale of Mongolia’s first state-guaranteed foreign bonds this month, investors are cutting their bets on commodities to a 31-month low.
A struggling U.S. economy and a slowdown in China will join a looming recession in Europe to reduce commodity demand, “creating significant risks for emerging market investors,” Bank of America Corp. said this month in its 2012 outlook.
Country Risk
China’s top coking coal supplier in July, Mongolia turned to the IMF for a $224 million loan to help survive the 2008 global economic crisis. Mongolia expanded 6.4 percent last year and is on course for 16.9 percent growth this year, according to the IMF.
“It’s looking a lot like what happened in 2008, when there were several years of rapid increases in government spending at a time when mineral prices were high,” Bennett said. With the global economy also starting to resemble the 2008 downturn, the country risks seeing its resource revenue shrink, he said.
The rise in state spending, which now accounts for two- thirds of Mongolia’s economy outside of mining, compared with 53 percent in 2007, comes ahead of parliamentary elections in June. It also anticipates a 2013 startup of the Oyu Tolgoi mine, which operator Rio Tinto Group has said is one of the world’s biggest untapped copper and gold finds and potentially a source of 30 percent of Mongolia’s gross domestic product by 2020.
Inflation Concern
Government spending is on course to accelerate inflation to an average 18.7 percent in 2012 from 10.2 percent this year, IMF said in a Nov. 29 report. Wages are estimated to rise 80 percent over three years through 2012, Bennett said. IMF strips out food and administered prices from inflation metrics to focus on “aggregate demand,” he said.
Mongolia’s proposed budget for 2012 “would set an all time record for expenditure growth,” World Bank’s lead Mongolia economist Rogier van den Brink said in a Dec. 16 blog posting on the bank’s website. A continued boom in foreign investment in Mongolia is not guaranteed next year, while the risks to the global and especially China’s economy continue to grow as commodity prices stumble, he said.
Investor enthusiasm for Mongolia has waned since the summer as Europe’s sovereign debt crisis deepened and concerns about resource nationalism grew. In September, a group of Mongolian lawmakers called for a revision of the Oyu Tolgoi mine accord with Rio Tinto and partner Ivanhoe Mines Ltd., which had taken six years to conclude.
Losing Ground
From being the world’s best performer in the 12-months to April, the MSE Top 20 Index of Mongolia has since plunged 18 percent, more than the benchmarks in the U.K. and the U.S. The tugrik, the second-biggest gainer against the dollar in the year to April 1, has lost 13.6 percent since then, ranking at 158 in terms of global currency returns.
Standard & Poor’s credit-rating company on Dec. 19 revised its outlook on Mongolia to positive, saying it may raise the BB- long-term sovereign rating should the country’s fiscal, monetary and banking rules reduce “vulnerabilities in these areas.”
The credit company also praised Mongolia for introducing a fiscal responsibility law, which is supposed to limit budget deficits to 2 percent of gross domestic product from 2013.
That’s one goal Mongolia will struggle to meet under current spending plans, IMF’s Bennett said. After next year’s spending increase, which may be around 15 percent, Mongolia will need to cut expenditure by the same percentage in 2013 to comply with the law, he said.
“You’re really putting the economy on a roller coaster,” Bennett said.
--Editors: Peter Langan, Rebecca Keenan
To contact the reporter on this story: Yuriy Humber in Tokyo at yhumber@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rebecca Keenan at rkeenan5@bloomberg.net

Potential gains and potential losses with Copper

By D.Munkhchimeg
Copper is often viewed as a barometer for the global economy. As one of the main raw materials of the industrialized society, this red metal has an ability to forecast economic situations. Today’s European debt crisis and China’s slowdown have both battered international copper prices.
Originally, Mongolia only exported copper. Now, Mongolia generates high revenue from the exportation of coal, iron ore and other precious metals. Recently, the income from coal export doubled copper concentration export earnings. However, copper is still the main source of the budget revenue.

This year, for example, it is estimated to collect 402.6 billion MNT from coal, and 561.2 billion MNT from copper. Moreover, the red metal likely to get back its moniker “engine of Mongolian economy” when Oyu Tolgoi, the world’s largest untapped copper-gold deposit, starts production. Therefore, the large swings in commodity prices in recent months are a source of concern.  Supported by strong demand in China, the copper price by February this year had surpassed its all time record, reaching USD 10,190 a ton on London Metal Exchange (LME). However, since August it have fallen by more than 20 percent to USD 7,263 a ton now and, with the global economic environment deteriorating, could fall further. As we can keep track of LME copper prices to gauge Mongolian export and fiscal earnings, let’s take a precise look at copper market.

Mongolian Copper
Statistics show that in first 9 months of this year, Mongolia exported 475 thousands ton of copper concentration and earned USD 828 million. Thanks to high prices at world market in first half of this year, the dollar value of copper exports rose by 30 percent. However, in volume terms, exports are barely changed, as country's single largest mine is the Erdenet deposit. However, the bright future is waiting for Mongolian copper industry.
Ivanhoe Mines is on target for production at Oyu Tolgoi commencing in the second half of 2012, according to its third quarter report. The impact of this huge project on the Mongolian economy will be significant, that Cameron McRae, Oyu Tolgoi`s CEO, pointed out that the mine would boost the GDP of the country by 33 percent by 2020. According to Cameron McRae, by 2019 Oyu Tolgoi will become one of the top five copper mines in the world, and will surpass the production of Erdenet. Moreover, earlier this year, BMO Capital Markets listed Oyu Tolgoi as the best new copper project for long-term profits, ranking the mine as the second best new source of copper in terms of production capacity. Furthrmore, there are other signs that Mongolia will face copper export bonanza very soon. Tsagaan Suvarga, another strategically important copper deposit, likely to be operational since 2015, according to D.Zorigt, the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy. Mongolia has 1.2 billion tons of copper ore reserves, and copper export likely to hit a million tons by 2020, he stated at “Metals Mongolia 2011″ forum.
However, the concern is even more acute as stresses in the global economy became deeper. The Telegraph reported that Rio Tinto, which owns 49 percent of Ivanhoe Mines, warns of slowing markets. Rio`s CEO Tom Albanese said Rio was yet to feel the full brunt of the European crisis, though he voiced concern Europe’s plight would inevitably touch China, its biggest buyer.
China consumes about 40 percent of global output of around 16 million tons in 2010. However, the current economic issues across Europe and the United States could downsize China’s role as the world’s largest copper consumer, and then affect the country’s copper demand, experts warned. The manufacturing monster-China is expected to suffer a rapid slowdown following the collapse in demand across the Eurozone, its largest export market.
Unstable Fund
During the previous boom in commodity prices, Mongolia did not save enough of the windfall revenues. Therefore, when the copper price, which hit USD 8,900 in the summer of 2008, fell to a figure three times lower due to the financial crisis  within just a half years time, the government had no choice but to borrow money from donors. Because the subsequent fall in prices directly impact export and fiscal revenues, making the GDP growth fell from 8.9 percent to minus 1.3 percent in 2009. In order to avoid experiencing such a hardship again, the Parliament adopted the Fiscal Stability Law, which mandates the saving of excess mineral revenues in a Stabilization fund.
However, a future problem of the Stabilization Fund is that the fund is expected to reach only MNT 219 billion by the end of this year, amounting to merely 2 percent of GDP. “This suggests limited space to provide a stimulus in case of sharp terms of trade shock that undermines mineral revenues,” the World Bank warned.
The Ministry of Finance is estimated, that Stabilization fund will earn 381 billion MNT next year, 168 billion coming from the copper industry. According to the budget of 2012, copper price is expected to be at USD 9,760 per ton next year while its balanced price is calculated to be at USD 6,663 per ton. In other words, the Stabilization Fund could not accumulate money from copper production, if prices fall below USD 6,663.
So, there are risks that optimistic forecasts from Ministry of Finance may not materialize, as the news and media are full of gloomy forecasts and dire predictions about copper prices.
The Bank of America Merrill Lynch forecasting lower average copper prices in 2012 of USD 7,750 per ton, compared with USD 8,785 per ton in 2011. “Copper prices have already dipped below our long-held forecast of USD 7,500 per ton for 2012. And now we see prices falling back to USD 6,000 or even lower next year,” pointed out experts at Capital Economics.

Source:UB Post

Mongolian doc visits mountain town

Dr. Munkhjargl Ayurzana, a general practice physician working with Flagstaff International Relief Effort (FIRE) in Mongolia, greets local photographer David Edwards, who helped start the relief organization in its infancy. The two were celebrating during a holiday party hosted by the nonprofit in November. Betsey Bruner/Arizona Daily Sun

Read more: http://azdailysun.com/news/local/mongolian-doc-visits-mountain-town/article_9739607f-0407-5bba-98b5-b09229179b9e.html#ixzz1gvwqv5y1
BETSEY BRUNER Arts & Culture Editor 

A group of concerned citizens of Flagstaff have been reaching 13,000 miles across the world for about 16 years to help citizens of all ages in Mongolia stay warm and healthy during harsh winters there.
Since 1997, that group has operated under the name Flagstaff International Relief Effort, or FIRE.
It was originally called Mongolia Orphans Relief when local photographer David Edwards founded the nonprofit in 1995.
Edwards has been regularly visiting Mongolia, a landlocked country between China and Russia, and has established an international reputation for his documentary photography of Central Asia.
Mongolia is very photogenic as it is one of the last places on the planet where nomadic life is still a living tradition.
The primary focus for the group he started was providing warm clothing for those in need in Mongolia, where the weather is bitterly cold during the winter, dropping down to minus-40 degrees in some areas.
In recent years, the focus has shifted to helping fight the hepatitis epidemic in that country. Mongolians have amongst the highest rates of hepatitis B and C in the world.
Last year, FIRE opened a medical office in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city.
In November, the medical director at the office, Dr. Munkhjargal Ayurzana, affectionately called Jagaa by her FIRE friends, visited Flagstaff on her way to a medical conference on liver disease in San Francisco, where she said it was a great opportunity to learn.
"I was amazed when I came to Flagstaff," the doctor said during a party in her honor. "So many people know about Mongolia just because of the FIRE program. I'm so glad David and others started FIRE for Mongolia; it makes me excited!"
Meredith Potts, executive director for FIRE, said she was delighted to have Ayurzana here and to return the hospitality she has experienced on her visits to Mongolia.
"It's just great to have her," she said. "It's the first time we've had one of our Mongolian employees come here. It's really exciting to show her Flagstaff and to make that connection with Flagstaff for Mongolia."
The doctor is a general practice physician and said she is married and has "two fine kids" at home.
"We still get the hand knits sent to us, the blankets, scarves, hats and jumpers for kids," she said. "Sometimes we get gloves and such things. It's a big help to us to get people to know about FIRE."
Yorool bat orshig: "May your wishes be fulfilled." The FIRE year-end newsletter wished everyone best wishes and also asked for donations to the cause.
"Because of you, FIRE is succeeding," the newsletter said. "With your help, in the coming months, we will train more doctors and nurses, make hospitals safer and save lives. We count on grants and fundraising from people like you for our entire budget."
Organizers are hoping to raise $20,000 by the end of the year to stay on track, which is 200 people each donating $100.
According to the newsletter, Since 1999 FIRE has personally distributed 76 tons of winter clothing to 65,000 individuals, 80 computers and 6,000 English language books to 12 schools, $690,000 worth of medical supplies to 54 clinics and hospitals, and organized more than 1,000 hours of medical training with 635 medical professionals.
FIRE programs have provided aid and training in 12 of Mongolia's 21 provinces.
Betsey Bruner can be reached at bbruner@azdailysun.com or 556-2255.
Many successes for FIRE in 2011
* Collected and shipped 300 serum samples to the National Institutes of Health in Washington DC.
* Tested 370 health care workers for hepatitis B and began to vaccinate more than 200 health care workers who tested negative.
* Received $15,000 and $21,000 grants for hepatitis testing, vaccination and education programs.
* Facilitated the distribution of 19,000 sharps containers (biohazard boxes for sharp medical waste) and training materials to 21 hospitals and clinics.
* Created Mongolia's first health care worker training video about the essentials of medical waste management emphasizing safety in the health care environment.
* Trained 100 health care workers on Medical Waste Management and Health Safety.
* The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases sponsored FIRE's Medical Director's attendance at their annual meeting in San Francisco.
* Developed partnerships with the World Hepatitis Alliance, Family Health International, the Onom Foundation and Health Care Without Harm.
* Developed a Diabetes Prevention Program with the support of the Ministry of Health and Millennium Challenge Account - Mongolia (MCA-M).
* Received 500 pounds of donated hand-knitted winter items in Mongolia.
To help FIRE
For more information about how to help FIRE, call 779-2288 or visit www.fireprojects.org

Read more: http://azdailysun.com/news/local/mongolian-doc-visits-mountain-town/article_9739607f-0407-5bba-98b5-b09229179b9e.html#ixzz1gvwMwm7w


Celebrating the enduring bond between man and bird

Falconry has been practiced for thousands of years across the world

Remah: Desert The gyrfalcon stretches her wings, moves restlessly on her tethered talons and shakes her hooded head.
"The females are bigger than the males," explains Malhoudi Al Humadi as he tends to the 30 or so raptors sheltering and resting under the tent. "But when it comes to hunting, there is no difference. They are both equally good."
Falconry has been practised for thousands of years, from Mongolia through to the native Indians of North America, in pre-Islamic culture in the Middle East and throughout Europe.
"The Book of St Alban's gives the hierarchy of hawks," explains Terry Large, an expert British falconer and the master of ceremonies for the second International Festival of Falconry taking place in Al Ain. More than 80 countries have delegates present at the festival. The Book of St Alban's was first published in 1486 and says that only emperors could hunt with eagles, vultures or merlins. Knaves or servants could only keep kestrels.
"Falconry is really the master and teamwork of man and bird," says Large. "There is really nothing quite like the feeling of training a bird, then releasing it, watching it go into predator mode, and strike its prey."
All about rewards
Training a falcon requires hours of practice and repetition, slowly building up trust between man and bird.
"It's all about reward," notes Martin, one English falconer visiting the show with his family. "When you train a dog, it's about reward and discipline. If you discipline a bird, it will simply fly off. It won't come back. It all has to be about reward, conditioning the bird."
Modern falconers rely on telemetry — small radio beacons attached to the bird's back — to locate those that don't return on release. But even then that's no guarantee as the birds will continuously work at removing the telemetry.
When a falconer gets a new bird, the first step in training is to weight it.
"Say it weighs three kilogrammes," Martin explains. "You need to reduce its food intake to bring it down to about 2.8 kilogrammes. That way it's hungry."
At all times, the new bird is tethered to its perch.
The first step is to introduce food on the hand, getting the bird used to ‘manning' — being touched and lifted by humans.
When the bird is used to that stage, sitting on the hand, it also begins to associate the falconer with food.
A slightly longer tether is then introduced, getting the bird to leap from perch to gloved hand for food.
Slowly, the distance between perch and glove is increased, and the bird becomes more comfortable with the knowledge that its handler is the supplier of food. After weeks of repetition and increased distances, it finally becomes time to release the tether.
"That's a huge leap of faith," Martin says. "You never know for sure if the bird will fly to you, or will fly off."
When a bird kills prey, it's important to reward it with a portion of its kill — but never allow it to get ‘fed up.'
That common idiom — to be ‘fed up' — comes from falconry and refers to birds that have had too much to eat to the point where they no longer need to hunt or respond to the handler for food, hence the need to reduce food intake in the early stages of training.
Hoods are used on falcons to calm them.
"When they're in the dark, they tend to be quieter, less anxious, that's why they're hooded," Martin notes.
While there is a general perception falcons are limited to preying on game such as rabbits of other fowl, in Central Asia golden eagles have been used to hunt wolves, foxes and other large prey.
Large added: "For the falconer, the thrill is being able to train a bird to do what it does in the wild but to be able to control it. It's ultimate teamwork, ultimate trust between man and bird."


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