IN A NUTSHELL
In an effort to advance the interaction between man and bird, and to provide a unique opportunity to interact with birds of prey in their own environment, Scott Mason conceived and developed Parahawking. Parahawking is paragliding with trained birds of prey. By combining ancient falconry methods with the modern techniques of Paragliding, birds of prey are trained to fly and interact with paragliders and their tandem passengers and to guide them to thermals. Some birds of prey are natural soaring birds that have an amazing ability to conserve energy whilst flying. By using rising currents of warm air, birds of prey are able to gain height and fly long distances without flapping their wings. We as paragliders harness their natural ability to conserve energy by following them as we fly.
The birds need to be rewarded for their efforts. During the flight the pilot or passenger will place small morsels of meat onto their gloved hand, the birds will come and gently land on the hand to take the food, and then gracefully fly away to find the next thermal - a perfect symbiotic relationship. Parahawking has gone from a personal experiment to a global phenomenon whereby several hundred people each year are taken on a tandem Parahawking flight and given the unique opportunity to fly and interact with a bird of prey in it's own environment. Parahawking is featured in the Nepal Lonely Planet guide book as one of Pokhara's highlights.
Parahawking is an award winning concept. The International Association for Avian Trainers and Educators presented Scott Mason with the Enrichment Behaviour Award 2010 for Parahawking.
Asia's vultures are under serious threat and are virtually on the brink of extinction. The White Backed Vulture, The Slender Billed Vulture and the Long Billed Vulture have declined by a staggering 99.9% in the last 15 years. This catastrophic decline is due to a drug called Diclofenac, an anti inflammatory drug commonly administered to sick and dying livestock across Asia. Diclofenac is poisonous to vultures. Vultures that feed from animal carcasses that have been treated with Diclofenac ingest the remnants of the drug, this causes renal failure resulting in death. The decline represents a loss of approx 40 million birds leaving only thousands left in the wild.
The potential loss of Asia's vultures has profound ecological and social consequences. Vultures play a vital role by rapidly disposing of dead matter that would otherwise pose a risk of disease. Due to their decline there there has been a dramatic increase in feral dog numbers, which pose a real risk to human health and safety.
Vultures are often misunderstood and have a rather unsavory image, by using vultures for Parahawking we hope to change our perceptions of them. By interacting and connecting with these majestic birds of prey we intend to raise awareness for the vultures plight. Parahawking is our unique and innovative contribution to help prevent the potential extinction of this important species.
Parahawking is not just a joyride. It's an education in bird of prey behaviour and conservation as a whole. Parahawking supports vulture conservation by donating 1000 rupees from every Parahawking tandem experience to selected vulture conservation projects in Nepal.