Sunday, May 15, 2016

Factoid of the day

via StrategyPage:

ISIS is using carrier pidgeons to send messages to their "refugees" in Jordan

 some of the million or more Syrian refugees in Jordan are actually ISIL members or sympathizers. ISIL has learned to be very careful with communications so that their few operatives in Jordan remained undiscovered by the police. Now that the Jordanians are aware of the ISIL use of carrier pigeons they can bring in specialists (Bedouins expert in spotting and taking down birds) to deal with the problem.

SP includes a short summary of using the pidgeons in wartime, but what is that about the Bedouins being experts in spotting and taking down the birds?

There is a long history of falconry in the desert:

UAE report on Bedouin falconry. 

Rashid Hamad Al Suwidi has been training falcons since he was six, when his father gave him his first bird.

--DUBAI // Falcons have been an indispensable hunting tool for Bedouin for hundreds of years. More than that, they have often come to be regarded as a family member.And the necessity of survival in the desert meant a strong bond of trust was forged between the falconer and his bird.
"They played an important role in helping families to survive in the desert," said Margit Mueller, the director of the Falcon Hospital in Abu Dhabi. "For that reason, they were integrated into the family. They were not merely a tool, they became regarded as a family member, even as a child."

more photos at NatGeo.

Related item: The use of pidgeons to carry military information goes back 3000 years.

It is said necessity is the mother of invention but more often than not war gives rise to them both. Falconry and the use of Carrier Pigeons are no exception. The practice of both is believed to have started in Egypt over 3000 years ago....

It can be speculated out of a needed to disrupt these communication lines the art of Falconry was born. Generally it is thought of as a sport and after the crusades became associated with the nobility of Europe. However the gamesmanship was primary used for hunting food; trained falcons and other birds of prey helped the Bedouin tribes of the eastern deserts survive 1000 of years ago by catching small animals.

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