EA to monitor UAE houbara population

AL AIN — The Environment Agency (EA), Abu Dhabi is studying how a general decrease in Central Asian houbara is reflected on the bird's wintering population in the UAE.

By Lana Mahdi

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Published: Sat 1 Apr 2006, 10:19 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 5:46 PM

A source from the EA said that since a serious decline of houbara population in Central Asia has been noticed, there is an urgent need to update data and check if the annual and seasonal trends and movement patterns of houbara in UAE observed in previous years remain current.

The information gained from desert rangers, combined with that obtained by the use of satellite tracking, offers the best opportunity to learn and understand the biology of the houbara in the UAE. It offers researchers the possibility to study the yearly changes in the population status.

“Asian houbara are winter visitors to the UAE in small numbers. Since 1994, the National Avian Research Centre (Narc) has developed collaboration with a network of desert tracker camps in Abu Dhabi from the Private Department (Crown Prince, Abu Dhabi), whose main purpose is to prevent unauthorised hunting and to locate birds for authorised hunting parties,” added the official.

Since spring 2004, small numbers of houbara from the Narc in Sowaihan, Al Ain, which is part of the EA, have been released in the wild in the UAE, where they have survived throughout the year and are closely monitored.

The desert rangers of Abu Dhabi form a group of very skilful observers who patrol their areas every day during the season when houbara visit the UAE. “Co-operation between us benefits our common aim of a continued future presence of houbara in the UAE,” he said.

The data collected from desert rangers since 1994 shows that the first houbara are observed in the UAE between mid-September and early November, and in general, a peak in numbers occurs by mid-December. Final departure ranges between the end of January and the beginning of April, when all houbara have left to go back to their northern breeding grounds.

He highlighted that the project findings will give an indication of the trends in the numbers and habitat/location choice of houbara wintering in Abu Dhabi emirate and strengthen links between Narc and the rangers‚ network in addition to increasing public awareness regarding the status of the houbara in UAE.

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