The traditional pigeon race in the United Kingdom is in danger – rts.ch

The traditional pigeon race in the United Kingdom is in danger – rts.ch
The traditional pigeon race in the United Kingdom is in danger – rts.ch

In the United Kingdom, the start of spring marks the start of the pigeon racing season. Participants travel to the four corners of the country, release the bird and see how long it takes to return home. But today, this sport is threatened by animal rights activists.

The atmosphere is tense before the start of this race unlike any other, which sees 22,000 racing pigeons released in the north of England.

“They come home. They fly as quickly as possible to see who will be the first to arrive,” explains Friday in the 7:30 p.m. Peter Maw, participant in the Up North Combine, the pigeon race.

A lucrative race

The winners can receive jackpots worth more than a million francs. As a result, the animals are pushed to achieve delirious speed. The fastest pigeon in history reached a speed of 177 km/h.

“They just want to come home to take care of their babies and be fed. You train them when they are young, first you take them out a kilometer from your house, then five kilometers and so on so they understand where they have to go,” continues the competitor.

For this pigeon fancier who has won numerous competitions, taking care of these pigeons is an art and he trains several hundred racing pigeons. “You’re not going to win a Formula 1 race with a Ford Fiesta. You need really good pigeons and then you have to make sure they’re well fed,” says John Gladwin, who competes for Formula 1 Lofts.

Tradition in danger

The champion now fears for the future of this great British tradition. “My father always says that there were pigeons in every local garden when he was a child. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer young people take up the sport today,” laments John Gladwin.

This sport which still brings together thousands of enthusiasts also faces criticism. “Pigeons are kind and loyal birds. And yet, every year, hundreds of thousands of them are raced until they die. And 60% of the pigeons that participate in these races do not make it to return home,” denounces Jennifer White, activist for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

And even King Charles has his own fleet of pigeons, for now at least. Activists have in fact officially asked him to shed it to set an example to the rest of the nation.

TV topic: Clément Burge

Web adaptation: juma

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