Meet the French man who saved the peregrine falcon

Raphaël Arnaud with a Peregrine Falcon

Raphaël Arnaud looks back on a lifetime of protecting the world’s most endangered birds

Raphaël Arnaud has made it his life’s mission to save the peregrine falcon and other birds of prey from extinction.

He founded the Rocher des Aigles 42 years ago at Rocamadour, Lot, where the public can see birds of prey, parrots and owls flying from the cliff-top site over the deep valley below.

The shows are designed to be entertaining and instructive, as the first mission of this site is not to amuse tourists but to be a conservation centre.

Behind the scenes, an internationally renowned reproduction programme has bred 1,500 young birds from 35 species, allowing populations of birds in danger to be maintained and restored.

Last year, Mr Arnaud (77) was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite by then-Environment Minister, Nicolas Hulot, for a lifetime’s work dedicated to a bird zoo.

 

What prompted your lifelong obsession with birds?

When I was a boy living on the Normandy coast in the 1950s, I loved seeing these magnificent birds in the wild. At that time, you could find peregrine falcons nesting on the cliffs every two kilometres.

I even wrote to the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris ...

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