As a method of communication, it is likely as old as the ancient Persians from whom the art of training the pigeons probably came. The Mughals also have used them as their messengers. The Romans used pigeon messengers to aid their military over 2000 years ago. Frontinus said that Julius Caesar used pigeons as messengers in his conquest of Gaul. The Greeks conveyed the names of the victors at the Olympic Games to their various cities by this means.
By the 12th century, messenger pigeons were used in Baghdad. Naval chaplain Henry Teonge (c. 1620–1690) describes in his diary a regular pigeon postal service being used by merchants between İskenderun and Aleppo in the Levant.
Before the telegraph, this method of communication had a considerable vogue amongst stockbrokers and financiers. The Dutch government established a civil and military system in Java and Sumatra early in the 19th century, the birds being obtained from Baghdad. In 1851, the German-born Paul Julius Reuter opened an office in the City of London which transmitted stock market quotations between London and Paris via the new Calais to Dover cable. Reuter had previously used pigeons to fly stock prices between Aachen and Brussels, a service that operated for a year until a gap in the telegraph link was closed.
Details of the employment of pigeons during the siege of Paris in 1870-71 led to a revival in the training of pigeons for military purposes. Numerous societies were established for keeping pigeons of this class in all important European countries; and, in time, various governments established systems of communication for military purposes by pigeon post. After pigeon post between military fortresses had been thoroughly tested, attention was turned to its use for naval purposes, to send messages to ships in nearby waters. It was also used by news agencies and private individuals at various times. Governments in several countries established lofts of their own. Laws were passed making the destruction of such pigeons a serious offense; premiums to stimulate efficiency were offered to private societies, and rewards given for destruction of birds of prey. Before the advent of radio, pigeons were used by newspapers to report yacht races, and some yachts were actually fitted with lofts.
During the establishment of formal pigeon post services, the registration of all birds was introduced. At the same time, in order to hinder the efficiency of the systems of foreign countries, difficulties were placed in the way of the importation of their birds for training, and in a few cases falcons were specially trained to interrupt the service during war-time, the Germans having set the example by employing hawks against the Paris pigeons in 1870-71.
No satisfactory method of protecting the weaker birds seems to have been developed, though the Chinese formerly provided their pigeons with whistles and bells to scare away birds of prey. However, as radio telegraphy and telephony were developed, the use of pigeons became limited to fortress warfare as early as in the 1910s. As an example, the British Admiralty discontinued its pigeon service in the early 20th century, although it had attained a remarkably high standard of efficiency. Nevertheless, large numbers of birds were still kept at the great inland fortresses of France, Germany and Russia at the outbreak of the First World War.
There are many all too familiar stories to be told to confirm the usefulness of the then carrier pigeon and suffice to be said that pigeons were extensively used and sacrificed during the 2nd world war.
Since then the expediency of the racing pigeon became evident in modern day racing of the birds for the pleasure of mankind, be that good or bad because there are no other role that the racing pigeon can fulfil today.
Meaning that if the NSPCA is successful in their efforts to outlaw pigeon racing the existence of the specie would become extinct and that would surely be a very sad day to outlaw such a brave and courageous animal.
However the racing pigeon sport worldwide should take note of complaints aimed at them and clean up their act and this is exactly why Odra was formed by caring pigeon fanciers to address these wrongs whilst providing a right of existence to both the sport and the pigeon.
The need and use of modern technology in the form of CCTV surveillance and weather forecasts in planning races and during transportation and the basketing process as well as to overcome the NSPCA’s justified complaints and allegations of;
- Overcrowding to save transport costs.
- Lack of food and water whilst in transit
- Racing under-developed young birds to extreme distances
- Knowingly and wilfully liberating race birds to face extreme distances and weather conditions, forcing them to “overnight” in life threatening circumstances.
- Using stimulant drugs and antibiotics to improve performance
Has been realised by Odra and forms an Integral part of the security, regulations and other requirements by Odra within the management functions and the requirement of membership to the Co-Op as described in this manual.
How does Odra meet the basic principles of a Co-Op
The International Co-operative Alliance, based in Geneva, is broadly recognized as the legitimate international home of national co-op federations, and is also where co-ops have, over time, debated and changed the accepted Co-op Principles, as well as engaging with key and highly contested debates about the variations on the classic co-op form that can be accepted within the recognized movement. The current state of play on these issues is captured below.
The International Co-operative Alliance:
Statement on Co-op Identity adopted at the 1995 Congress and General Assembly
Definition of a Co-operative
A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically controlled enterprise.
Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others.
The co-operative principles are guidelines by which co-operatives put their values into practice.
1st Principle: Voluntary and Open Membership
Co-operatives are voluntary organisations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.
2nd Principle: Democratic Member Control
Co-operatives are democratic organisations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote), and co-operatives at other levels are also organised in a democratic manner.
3rd Principle: Member Economic Participation
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
4th Principle: Autonomy and Independence
Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organisations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.
5th Principle: Education, Training and Information
Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public – particularly young people and opinion leaders – about the nature and benefits of co-operations.
6th Principle: Co-operation among Co-operatives
Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.
Concern for Community
Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.
This Statement on the Co-operative Identity was adopted at the 1995 Congress and General Assembly of the International Co-operative Alliance, held in Manchester to celebrate the Alliance’s Centenary.
Recommended to the Congress by the ICA Board, the Statement was the product of a lengthy process of consultation involving thousands of co-operators around the world.
- The principle of the indivisibility of co-op capital. Historically, the co-op principle was that the capital of a co-op was indivisible. When a member left, even after a lifetime of employment, they could only take out the value of their initial share contribution, with nominal interest. This has been a factor contributing to the tendency for members of commercially-successful co-ops to vote to convert the enterprise to a conventional form of business, in order to access their portion of the capital growth in the business. Amongst other issues, this was part of the motivation for many of SA’s agricultural co-ops to vote to convert to limited liability companies in the late 1990’s.
South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has increased support for co-operatives in the country by establishing a Co-operatives Development Agency and Tribunal.
The DTI has identified programmes and products to ensure that South Africans are supporting sustainable co-operatives that can play a meaningful role in the economic and social development of its members, for the good of their members.
Prime Functions of Odra as a Primary Co-Op
- It is the prime function of Odra as a Co-Op to, pool knowledge and capital to create greater leverage in the marketplace and policy arena, attract business service providers, as well as establishing a platform for on-line auctions where members can sell their pigeons or other products at top prices.
- The second complimentary function would be to initiate, control and innovate interesting competitions and prise giving events amongst the members.
- The third required function would be to represent their members at management meetings of the National control body such as the South African National Pigeon Organisation (SANPO) or equivalent organisation that is properly affiliated and complies with the constitution of the South African National sports body SASCOC.
- The forth function would be to continuously seek sponsorships to subsidies prize money for competitions on offer as per requirement
- Wherever possible provide reliable and affordable transport
The modern tendency amongst pigeon organisations seems to be “……the fanciers are fading in amounts so therefor to be able to maintain the amounts at liberation points we must increase the amount of teams per fancier as well as flying double races, therefor the transport vehicle also has to increase in size”.
This tendency plus the “norm” that young birds must be liberated separately from the old birds is causing;
- Transport cost to fly through the roof.
- Smaller fanciers and pensioners are leaving the sport
- Junior and new entrants to the sport are virtually unheard of.
A Typical Odra transport solution as used in Nigel Guateng
On the day annual race program
- Racing teams with the following breakup;
- 5 bird teams young and / or open series
- 10 bird teams young and / or open series
- 15 bird teams open series only.
- 2ndteams with the same quantity and same pricing
Sprint series annual race program
- Training teams with the following breakup
- Prices will be per basket of 25 birds but must also be entered in the sprint series per teams of 25 birds.
Size of trucks
- 3 to 5 ton truck with a 72 to 96 basket (25 bird)capacity for on the day racing. Capacity 1800 to 2400 birds
- Detachable 2 ton trailer with a 48 (25 bird)basket capacity for sprint series races. Capacity 1200 birds
- 5 ton LDV with 32 similar baskets for pick-up assistance for truck and trailer. Capacity 800 birds.
The trailer will be used to accommodate 1200 sprint series birds and the truck will be able to transport 1800 race birds or 120 teams of 15 birds and will be used to pick-up the “inline to race point” clubs.
The 1.5 tonner will service out-lying clubs with both race baskets and sprint series baskets.
Double sets of baskets will be used on both vehicles and trailer.
The 1.5 truck will then meet up with the main transporter at the last club and transfer baskets to the main truck or trailer, prior to departure to race and sprint series liberation points.
This means that the sprint series birds on the trailer will be liberated at the designated race point early Saturday morning or when Thursday basketing take place, Friday at 09:00hrs.
The Main truck without the trailer will then move on to race point.
The 1.5 tonner will return to base with empty baskets ready for next week.
The main truck will then collect the trailer on its way back to base camp.
Limitations and advantages
- Sprint series participation will be limited to 48 teams of 25 birds each.
- Race teams would be limited to 120 teams of 15 birds.
The advantages are
- Much lower cost of transport per bird and should participation dwindle at the end of the race season the smaller truck could be used with more apparent cost savings.
- Due to using the smaller truck for distant pick-ups at off-route clubs, nobody will have to wait for pickups later that 22:00hr.
- Drivers will be able to sleep on arrival at sprint series race point and again at arrival at race point. Meaning birds will be properly rested and watered prior to liberation and drivers will be fresh and alert
The following capital equipment will be needed by fully affiliated clubs (as described in paragraph D) to comply too the stringent requirements of Odra.
- An FCI or other qualifying authority approved electronic clock with the capabilities of sending immediate and accurate arrival times to the internet to be viewed instantaneously. Such as the Benzing Live system.
- CCTV surveillance during the basketing process.
- Continuous educational programs to discourage the abuse of sulpha drugs and antibiotics by affiliated club-members.
- Regular displays of pigeons and small portable pigeon lofts in venues such as shopping centres or prise giving events.
These requirements will be partly financed by the members of the affiliated clubs and by fund raising events of Odra. Typical fund raising occasions will be auctions of valuable pigeons on the Odra website.
Odra will also seek sponsorship from cell phone service providers who would be interested to extend their branding amongst pigeon fanciers using live clocking systems and consuming air time and band width.
Affiliated clubs will also be required to involve their local NSPCA personnel to convince them of the sincerity of Odra affiliated clubs to totally eradicate any form of abuse of the racing pigeon whilst allowing the specie to full fill its right to life and a useful existence to serve humanity and nature in the same manner as all other avian species and animals.
The expenses and effort spent on these important aspects will be rewarded by Odra in the allocation of extra funds earned by Odra from sponsorship and the sale of advertising space on the Odra website.
Due to the unique four bird grouping competition offered by Odra it is possible for any club in South Africa to apply for affiliation with Odra, however, it is obviously not possible to provide transport to clubs other than those based on the East Rand and adjacent areas.
Therefore there are two distinct membership types within the affiliation to Odra;
- Full affiliation
- 4 bird grouping with limited affiliation.
- Full affiliation
The lack or absence of Capital equipment required for affiliation to Odra as described in paragraph C of this manual, would be detrimental in the prerequisite of Odra for immediate results as well as the required insight to basketing procedures by the NSPCA.
Odra will, where ever possible assist clubs seeking affiliation to becoming compliant by negotiating bulk deal discounts with suppliers of both CCTV surveillance equipment and Electronic “live” clocking systems.
Applicants will also be able to use the Odra website to offer birds on auctions in an effort to raise the required funds.
Any club with a total membership of 4 participating and paying members will be considered for a pickup point for both the Sprint series a s well as the Odra race program.
- 4 Bird Grouping with limited affiliation
Capital equipment requirements and funding privileges will remain the same as fully affiliated clubs, with the only difference being the exclusion of transport provision.
The first Rule relating to any competition new or otherwise is, that participation may never be compulsory.
ODRA Operations Manual
In this manual we cover:
- Historical Background of the racing (carrier) pigeon
- Principals of ODRA as a Racing Pigeon Co-Op
- Main functions of ODRA as a Co-Op for the Racing pigeon sport
- Fundamental requirements and funding methods to establish an affiliated club
- ODRA Membership and area of operation
In this constitution we cover:
- Form of co-operative
- Places of business
- Management of co-operative board of directors
- Board meetings and quorum
- Delegation of powers to a committee
- General meetings