Dagenham birdman's rescue centre threatened

A DAGENHAM falconer, who offers tourists the chance to paraglide with vultures in the Himalayas, could be shut down following claims the practice is cruel to the birds. Scott Mason, dubbed the Birdman of Dagenham , runs a para-hawking company and a bi

A DAGENHAM falconer, who offers tourists the chance to paraglide with vultures in the Himalayas, could be shut down following claims the practice is cruel to the birds.

Scott Mason, dubbed the "Birdman of Dagenham", runs a para-hawking company and a birds of prey rescue centre in the mountains of Nepal.

The 38-year-old and his team rescue, rehabilitate and release injured vultures and kites back in to the wild, and train those that can't be released to fly alongside tourists taking part in paraglides.

But last week the Nepalese government announced the venture will have to close, after allegations the former graphic designer is illegally holding endangered species and the para-hawking trips amounted to cruelty.


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Scott, who grew up in Chaplin Road and left Dagenham in 2001, says many of his vultures and kites will die if the rescue centre, the only bird rescue facility in Nepal, is shut down and the para-hawking trips are banned.

He told the POST: "If the government closes us all my birds will be confiscated and released. The birds that have been trained to fly with humans will then die, as they do not possess the skills to survive in the wild."

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Scott, who has attracted world wide fame since launching his unique venture nine years ago, says his para-hawking trips are not cruel and have actually helped publicise vulture conservation.

He said: "We have been able to use the para-hawking and the international media attention it brings as a platform for promoting vulture conservation issues in Nepal and ten Euros from every para-hawking flight goes to projects which help protect the birds.

"It would be very sad if we could not continue supporting the vultures in this way."

Scott's rescue centre, called the Himalayan Raptor Centre and the para-hawking trips have been endorsed by a number of conservation bodies, including the RSPB, Vulture Rescue and Bird Conservation Nepal.

Hum Guring, chief executive of Bird Conservation Nepal, told a London paper: "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."

As we went to press Scott contacted the POST to say he is now working closely with the Nepalese authorities, who have been "very co-operative about moving forward to resolve the issue."

For more information about Scott's parahawking trips go to www.parahawking.com and to read about his vulture conservation work go to www.himalayanraptorrescue.com

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