Falconry in Paraguay
Interview Tatiana Maria Rivarola Quevedo and Raul German Palacios Princigalli
Falconry in Paraguay grows every day, and now there is a golden eagle to assist in avian control at Asuncion International Airport. To get to know more about falconry in Paraguay and also about TYGA, the golden eagle, I interviewed Raúl Princigalli and Tatiana Quevedo, a falconry couple who work with dedication, effort and professionalism and contribute to the growth of falconry in their country.
Who are they?
Tatiana Maria Rivarola Quevedo is an architect, lives in Asunción Paraguay and is married to Raúl for a year. She met falconry thanks to her husband, and she has practiced it since she met him 5 years ago. She has always loved birds and had the dream of being able to put them in her hand. The love for the birds was present in their wedding, that was with the theme of the Medieval Age, with falcons and Owls in the church. In falconry she admires the most the bond that is built between the man and the falcon, the mutual trust between a wild animal and the human being, and the satisfaction of being able to hunt with these birds.
Raul German Palacios Princigalli is a veterinarian and falconer from Asunción Paraguay. He has an avian control company called Raptor and has been working in Asunción International Airport for 5 years, in addition to other companies. For him, what he loves most about falconry is the interaction between the predator and its prey.
Beginning in falconry
Tatiana began in falconry five years ago when she met Raúl and immediately became passionate about the world of falconry. Her first birds were an owl (Otus choliba) and an American kestrel (Falco sparverius) with which she hunted her first wild prey. Raul's interest in falconry began when he was very young, at age 11 when he read in an encyclopedia the meaning of the word falconry, that was like a special call to him and he realized that it was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. And then he started to investigate about the subject, entered in international forums of falconry and at age 16 she had his first falcon, an American kestrel (Falco sparverius) with which he only hunted insects, then he had an aplomado falcon (Falco femoralis) with which he could hunt.
Tatiana has already flown many birds of prey in her five years as a falconer, and she tells us about her experience: "I have flown kestrels, many species of owls, an aplomado falcon, and now I am training a bat falcon (falco rufigularis), which is very nervous and has a super fast metabolism, but they are extremely agile and excellent hunters." The most difficult bird that
Raul has flown was a pale peregrine falcon, with whom he has many stories to talk about: "The most difficult bird I have ever flown was a pale peregrine falcon, it was difficult as it kept flying away and traveled long distances, once turning away for 40 km. This was one of several stories that I passed with this hawk, as in an opportunity that he also flew very far, was captured by some people and I found him tied in a window of the house of a settler near the airport.”
Today Tatiana flies a bat falcon (falco rufigularis) and an American kestrel (Falco sparverius) and she has the desire to fly a peregrine falcon in the future: "My idea is to be able to fly peregrine falcons, but before this I need practicing a lot with easier birds, as a peregrine requires a lot of time and dedication. But I always do my best to work and in my free time practice falconry." Raúl is currently flying a bat falcon, a pale peregrine, a black-chested buzzardeagle (Geranoaetus melanoleucus), an aplomado falcon, and he is taming a goshawk and a golden eagle. And he has more plans for the future: "As thanks to God I work with falconry, I can dedicate a lot of time to birds. And someday I wish I could handle a bicoloured hawk (Accipiter bicolor) . "
Falconry in Paraguay
How is falconry in Paraguay? What are the biggest challenges for the growth of falconry in your country?
The falconry in Paraguay is becoming popular, Raul introduced falconry in Paraguay, before him nobody knew about the subject and confused it with other things like sastrería or cestería* (laughs). We currently have a group of people who are interested and want to learn about it. The main challenges are people's awareness regarding birds of prey, since there are no laws that support this art here, many people believe that a hawk can be a pet and irresponsibly trap them from nature, even selling these birds illegally. We want to be able to promote laws that support the practice of falconry and conservation in our country. In Spanish falconry is called Cetrería, so people misunderstood the name of this art with "sastrería” tailoring or “cestería” Basket weaving.
What is the acceptance of the general public about falconry in your country?
Falconry generates a lot of interest in our country, most people love it, it surprises them, they want to know more about the subject, and because of this we constantly hold talks, events, medieval festivals with hunting demonstrations, etc. We disseminate falconry in all possible medias and assist people interested in its practice.
How do you evaluate the importance of environmental education with raptors in your country?
Environmental education and conservation is extremely important in our country. Since childhood it is important to raise awareness and train children and people on the subject, through direct contact with raptors, showing their way of life, habitat and hunting, as nowadays many people grab them from nature to sell in markets as pets. It is also very important to talk about how to feed them properly, as many believe that they must eat beef, feeding them with that, and thus killing the animal. Through the dissemination of falconry that we have been doing for several years, we are creating awareness in people both about bird conservation as about their environment.
How is the work of the company Raptor today in Paraguay?
Thanks to falconry the company Raptor was created, and we have been working with the biological control of birds at the International Airport Silvio Pettirossi for 5 years, before this there was no method of bird control there. Due to the importance of this work and to its good results, people got interested and we have clients in factories, sheds, buildings, houses, etc. interested in solving the problem they have with the pigeons (Columba livia) since the existing methods do not provide a correct solution to the problem. Then we devise control techniques that are used successfully, and with 100% effectiveness depending on the case. Our working method is the following: a visit is made to the site of infestation, it is evaluated and then an appropriate proposal is made. We developed several blocking methods with anti-pigeon meshes and a tape that emits electrical impulses that adheres to the surface, so when the pidgeon comes to perch, it receives the discharge and no longer perches in that place.
What are the advantages of using falconry to control wildlife at airports?
By means of the periodic flight of the hawks, before and after the landing and taking-off of the aircrafts, they are able to clear and drive away large numbers of birds that cross the runway or settle in the area, especially during the migration season. Falconry is a totally ecological method; it is not harmful to the human being and does not produce noise annoyances like bombs or firecrackers. It is the most effective solution tested. The golden eagle Tyga is the first golden eagle of South America and Central America, and she will be used to bird abatement at Silvio Pettirossi Airport.
What does TYGA mean and why did you choose this name?
Tyga means Thank You God Always (acronym in English), in honor to God, since the possibilities of being able to import a golden eagle to Paraguay were almost impossible, and with much effort and of course much faith we could do everything necessary so it was possible to bring her.
Why have you decided to import a golden eagle for using it in bird control at airports?
In addition to being a dream coming true to be able to train a golden eagle, it is a challenge, we will use her at the airport to mark territory and being able to chase away large birds both on airport building and in its surroundings, especially in the time of migration when we record large flocks of birds that are not frightened by the presence of smaller hawks, and even bother the hawks, such as southern crested caracara (Caracara plancus) and black vulture (Coragyps atratus), as well as mammals and reptiles of medium size that encircle in the area. We want to innovate and always improve our service and that is why we bet on the introduction of the golden eagle to control these species. Its use in other airports in the world can be very useful for the same reasons, since the biggest problem occurs during the migration season and the birds are very big.
How do you evaluate the importance of Tyga's arrival for falconry in Paraguay and South America?
It is extremely important at the national and regional level, Tyga had a great deal of attention in the news media and in the social networks where her arrival was viralized. This is a very big step for falconry in Paraguay, since for the first time a Paraguayan falconer acquired a bird of this magnitude, and at the level of center and South America we believe that it opens the doors leaving a precedent both in the importation as in the manning and the adaptation to the climate of the region. An example of struggle, perseverance and faith in God.
How is Tyga's behaviour like? What are the major differences in the temperament of the black chested eagle and the golden eagle?
Tyga is an eagle that had parental upbringing but could see people, so she grew up in a way she got used to seeing people. She arrived semi-tamed, and we are currently taming and acclimatizing her, but it is not so simple, since her full weight is 6kg and she is of the sub species daphanea. In the first time she debated she propelled me forward and managed to make me stand up from the chair, she also squeezes the glove very strongly, leaving several marks of her claws, it feels like she´s going to break the bone. On the other hand the black eagle that we have was imprinted and is extremely gentle and docile, he is very attached to the human being, is a male and weighs 1.6kg, but is very nice with people, he allows everyone to handle and touch him. He is used especially for exhibitions since his flight is imposing and he is not dangerous.
Tyga was imported from Slovakia, why did you choose to import an eagle from this country and how was the importation process?
We brought her from Slovakia since we made our inquiries and they recommended us there, because the fledged in this breeding center where we brought her is one of the best ones ( she is parental, her parents feed her but she could see people around) she comes from a hunter lineage and is of the sub species daphanea, originated in Kazakhstan, which means she is from the biggest golden eagle sub species of the world, her beauty, dark plumage and golden crown can already be appreciated since youth, it´s worthy of admiration.
The process of getting such an eagle as well the burocracy and getting an airline that was interested in transporting her was very difficult, it took us a lot of time since we decided to bring her up until we could really brought her, honestly up to 3 days before her arrival we were told it was not going to be possible and that is why we consider it a miracle. Everything that implied her importation was very complicated, she had to take several flights and a lot of paperwork was necessary, that is why we thank God for her arrival, it was a miracle that she arrived well. She took a flight from Slovakia to Spain, there she had to spend several months where a Spanish falconer took care of her, until we could get all documents required by Paraguay. Another complication was with the airline, since there are no direct flights that transfer Raptors from Spain to Paraguay, and she had to stop in Colombia and then come to Asuncion, a true odyssey. #DF