Abu Dhabi conservation efforts result in 629,900 more houbaras

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Abu Dhabi - Houbara conservation fund to have collaboration with other countries to increase the number of releasing sites for birds


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Tue 28 Sep 2021, 8:34 PM

Houbara bustards – integral to Emirati heritage – are enjoying all the attention they are getting at the ongoing Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (Adihex). The rare and elusive desert birds are unperturbed by the curious onlookers and strike a pose for a quick photo too.

Over the years, these vulnerable birds have been protected by Abu Dhabi-based International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC), which is one of the largest projects of its kind in the world. Till date, the total production of houbaras has reached 629,927, since breeding began in 1996 and 487,403 have been released in the wild.

Ali Al Shamsi, official spokesperson, IFHC, underlined that it was the UAE’s Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who in the 1970s first noticed the declining number of houbaras in the wild. In 1977, Sheikh Zayed launched a conservation programme at Al Ain Zoo and by 1982, the first Asian houbara chick hatched.

“We started houbara production at our breeding centres in 1996. Over the years, we have increased the number of houbaras. From 5 in 1996 to 82,346 this year. We produce Asian and North African houbaras. We have 4 breeding centres, with 2 in Sweihan, Abu Dhabi, and 1 each in Kazakhstan and Morocco,” Al Shamsi said.

Over the years, conservation efforts have resulted in more than 487,000 birds being released in the wild.

“In 1998, the first 2 birds were released in the wild. In 2021, we released 68,909. These have been released in 15 countries, including the UAE,” Al Shamsi noted.

Going forward the IFHC plans to have collaboration with other countries to increase the number of releasing sites. “The houbara distribution area is vast, starting from Arabian Peninsula for Asian houbara, going north to Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China and Magnolia, and north African houbara from Morocco to Egypt,” Al Shamsi added.

The exhibition is open from 11am to 10pm and runs till October 3. Visitors can book tickets online at https://adihex.com/.

Kids’ short story book unveiled on houbara conservation

The International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC) has unveiled a short story book with 15 chapters contributed by students of public schools in the UAE.

The book Qessas Min Bee’atina (Stories from our Environment) has been compiled following a competition with participation of more than 80 schools, from which 15 stories were shortlisted.

“We held a nationwide competition where students were offered three different themes. Each school could submit a story on a theme of their choice. We shortlisted 15 wonderful stories and published this book. Some stories are on the UAE’s efforts on conservation, turning the country as the best place for migratory birds etc. The illustrations by students have been developed and redesigned for publication,” said Hamda Al Ameri, senior specialist, awareness, education and communication department.

“We are now working with the Ministry of Education to make this story book as part of the curriculum,” she said at Adihex.

The IFHC is set to relaunch the official website, which will be more interactive and offer greater insight into the UAE’s efforts to preserve and sustain the houbara in nature.


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