The Peshawar Racing Pigeons Association on Friday concluded its longest-ever race of pigeons stretching over a distance of around 650 kilometres from Rajanpur in Punjab to Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The winning bird covered the distance in a record seven hours and five minutes, returning home to the Gul Bahar area of Peshawar, according to Qamar Zaman, the association’s president and owner of the winning pigeon.
Zaman was given a motorcycle on winning the competition.
The pigeon that came in second was owned by Wahab Afridi from Bara in Khyber District and the third position holder belonged to Hussain Obaid from Hayatabad Township in Peshawar.
Talking to APP, Qamar said that it was a difficult decision for pigeon lovers to release their birds from such a long distance and added that only 21 pigeons reached home from a total of 100 competitors.
"On the first day of the race held on Thursday, 12 pigeons returned home […] around nine on the second day. The remaining 79 pigeons could not reach home."
Qamar said racing pigeons are very expensive and a lot of money is spent on their feed and special training is required for covering such a long distance.
He said in some countries, pigeon race is the national game where pigeons having the pedigree of racers are bred and raised. They are especially imported by pigeon-lovers across the world including Pakistan.
He said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region is one of the toughest in the country for pigeon racing. Competing pigeons are specially trained by the owners by releasing them frequently from a distance, starting from 10 kilometres to hundreds of kilometres, he added.
In the beginning, the pigeon is released by the owner from Pabbi which is around 13 kilometres from Peshawar and later the distance is increased with the passage of time.
"Birds have the natural ability to assess ways so if we train them from around 100 GPS distance they can make an assessment from four to five hundred kilometres."
In response to a question about the judgement criteria as to which bird reached at what time, Qamar said that every pigeon carries a code number tied to its leg and as the bird reaches home, the owner calls the organiser to inform them the number and their claim is ascertained by tallying the code.