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Lanner Falcons hunt a Fennec Fox (video)

A pair of Lanner Falcons (Falco biarmicus) cooperatively hunt a Fennec Fox (Vulpes zerda) in southern Morocco.

The video below showing two Lanner Falcons engaging in cooperative hunting of a fully grown Fennec Fox. The footage was captured by members of the Association Anafis in the Qatari hunting reserve within the Boujdour region, southern Morocco.

Video of the cooperative hunt.

The observers described the attack as follows:

“A fierce battle unfolded between a pair of Lanner Falcons and a Fennec Fox, referred to locally in the Hassaniya dialect as “Aghrshi.”

The battle was quick and fast as we were driving. At one moment, two Falcons perched atop an Acacia tree seized our attention, while on the opposite side, a Fennec fox sought refuge from impending danger. It became evident that the two Falcons were surveilling the Fennec, patiently awaiting any movement—each potential movement proving potentially fatal.

Despite our efforts to descend and assume strategic positions, the two Falcons surprised us by swiftly pouncing on the Fennec during their initial attack. Unfortunately, we were unable to document this precise moment, yet we were able to document the battle that persisted between periods of latency and subsequent attacks. Presented here is the unfolding attack—a true battle for survival”

It’s in the name?

Remarkably, Lanner Falcon hunting of Fennec Fox is likely not documented in the literature.

A quick search in “The Lanner falcon” by Giovanni Leonardi, I found the following very interesting information (section “History, taxonomy and genetics”, page 26):

Alfaneque (synonyms: Alfegue, Alfeque, Alfrag, Alphamet) is currently in use in the Portuguese
language and the variant Alfanec was also used in Catalan (Herz 2004, Corriente 2008). This name comes from Western Arabic bāz alfanak literally ‘falcon for hunting fennecs’ (Corriente 2008). This name has no basis in either the prey taken by wild populations nor in falconry practice”.

As we see, despite the nomenclature quoted above, this hunting behaviour has not been known before (neither in the wild nor in falconry), according to the existing literature.

Have ornithologists been overlooking this behaviour? Or is it very rare to observe? Or something else?

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