Birdman Of Dagenham Faces Himalayan Grounding

NB: Parahawking continues in Nepal despite the threat. For up to date information contact Scott Mason through his website –
Link to Daily Mail
Link to Evening Standard
Pictures: Scott Mason
From Andrew Drummond, Bangkok, February 17 2010
Londoner Scott Mason, the ‘Birdman of Dagenham’, who runs a
vulture rescue centre in the Himalayas, today faced being shut down by
the Nepalese government after a press campaign in the capital Katmandu.
Mason, 38, speaking from Pokhara, Nepal: ‘It’s very depressing
news.  They say I am operating illegally. It’s seems there is resentment
and the government has said they are closing me down. If that happens
all my birds will die, and very slowly.’
East London former graphics designer and falconer has achieved
world-wide fame over the last nine years first for his work with his
‘Himalayan Raptor Rescue’ – and Para-hawking.
In his Para-hawking venture tourists can para-glide through the
Himalayas with kites and Egyptian vultures, which he has trained to fly
with them, swooping, taking tidbits, and even sitting on the crossbars.
The experience has been the subject of many films and television
documentaries and featured as one of FHM magazines ‘Things to do before
you die’

But now Nepal’s Minister for Forest & Soil Conservation Deepak
Bokhara has announced that Mason’s operation will be banned. ‘We will
stop Mason,’ he said.
The Ministerial announcement came after a month long ‘Mason Must Go!’ campaign by the Republica newspaper in Katmandu.
The newspaper claimed that Mason was illegally holding endangered
species and was outraged that he charged 120 Euros for para-hawking with
the birds.
is animal abuse and is forbidden by the country’s law in every sense of
the term.’  The newspaper asked ‘Who has let this foreigner indulge in
such activities?’
Scott’s Himalayan Raptor Rescue is a partner of the Royal Society for
the Protection of Birds, Vulture Rescue, and Bird Conservation Nepal. It
runs the only bird rescue centre in Nepal.
Hum Guring, Chief Executive Officer of Bird Conservation Nepal has
meanwhile called for the setting up of an official Bird Rescue Centre
which Nepal does not yet have.
‘We understand the Himalayan Raptor Centre has been concerned with the
saving of Raptors and we join hands (with it) to save our birds.  The
work of the Himalayan Raptor Centre is much appreciated and is also an
important source of income for sustaining the rescue works and to
support vulture  conservation in Nepal.’
Said Scott:  ‘We have black kites and Egyptian vultures which we use in
Para-hawking.  They have not been captured.  They have been raised as
chicks after being abandoned. 
‘The others we rescue we treat and release into the wild.  But if we
release trained birds, which have been working with humans they will
die.  We work closely and help fund the BCN and also work with the RSPB.
This will be a very sad day’.  Flights he said would continue until he
was notified officially by the Nepalese authorities.
Dr. Juliet Vickery, Head of International Research for the RSPB said she
was concerned at the news but would withhold comment until she could
contact Richard Cuthbert, Senior Conservationist Scientist and head of
Vulture Rescue, who had worked with Mason, but who was currently in New
‘Scott Mason is probably right if he says the birds will die if released into the wild.’
Nepal toppled its monarchy in 2008 and after initially being ruled by a
Maoist government is now ruled by a coalition led by Prime Minister
Madhav Kumar Nepal of the Communist Marxist Party of Nepal.