PARIS  - With razor-sharp claws and a top swooping speed of 300km/h, eight falcons have been unleashed at Roland Garros to rid the French Open of its pigeon pest problem.

With pigeon droppings claimed to alter the trajectory of the ball on the courts and with other bird-scaring tactics, such as loudspeaker noise, having failed, the French Tennis Federation turned to falcons. “We want to clear the pigeons off, not kill them”, said falconer Ludwig Verschatse.

“When we arrived, there were about 30 settled pigeons who have since left. But we have to stay for the duration of the tournament, because pigeons are stupid. They don’t transmit the information to their friends.”