Total annual breeding of International Fund for Houbara Conservation /IFHC/ exceeds global target of 50,000

ABU DHABI, 3rd October, 2016 (WAM)–For the first time in history, the total annual breeding of the International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC) exceeded the global target of 50,000 birds, to reach 53,743 Houbara chicks in the current year.

This achievement brings to fruition the vision of the founding father, late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, towards the sustainment of the Houbara bustards, and the preservation of the related authentic heritage for future generations.

The achievement of the 50,000 target comes a result of the generous support of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Chairman of IFHC Board. This new success also crowns efforts of more than four decades, and reflects a series of ceaseless scientific achievements by the IFHC.

Currently, the Fund is intensifying its preparations to take part in the upcoming edition of the Abu Dhabi International Hunting & Equestrian Exhibition (ADIHEX 2016), which will be held next October. The objectives of this participation consist in raising awareness among visitors, and promoting the activities of the IFHC. The Fund’s programme echoes a commitment to the sustainment of the Houbara population in the UAE and the Arabian Peninsula, and a desire to expand activities to other countries in Asia and North Africa.

This year’s breeding of Houbara chicks raises the number of what has been produced since 1996 to more than 285,000. Since 1998, about 200,000 Houbara bustards have been released into the wild.

The IFHC includes a number of centres, namely the National Avian Research Centre (NARC) – Sweihan in the UAE, the Emirates Centre for Wildlife Propagation (ECWP) in Morocco, the Sheikh Khalifa Houbara Breeding Centre in Kazakhstan, and the Sheikh Khalifa Houbara Breeding Centre in Abu Dhabi.

The acting Head of Communication and Public Relations Department, Ali Mubarak Al Shamsi expressed his satisfaction with this ground-breaking achievement of Abu Dhabi in the field of the Houbara preservation and sustainment.

“This is an important step towards the sustainment of the Houbara population into the wild. Recently, a large number of falconers took part in a survey conducted by the Fund. It appeared that 88% of these falconers are fairly aware about the current situation, and concerned with the preservation of the Houbara bustards. After a whole decade of achievements, the Fund is reformulating its strategy on the basis of what has been accomplished between 1976 and 2015. The objective consists in laying new foundations for the sustainment phase that began in 2016 and will last until 2025,” Al Shamsi said.

“The stunning success of the Fund brings to fruition the vision of late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Throughout the previous decades, we have been implementing the directives of our wise leadership towards doubling efforts, with the aim of protecting the Houbara population. To this end, we have been raising Houbara numbers in the wild, and preserving their natural habitats in a number of regions. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi have always been fully committed to this significant cause, through the mobilisation of an unlimited support and the intensification of efforts in cooperation with a number of international organisations and concerned bodies in countries that stretch from Morocco in North Africa to Mongolia and China,” Al Shamsi added.

Set up in 2006, the International Fund for Houbara Conservation is part of Emirati efforts to increase the wild population of Houbara bustard through the release of captive-bred Houbara and to conserve the variety and integrity of the Houbara bustard species throughout its range (genetic, behavioural and ecological specificity).

After long years of scientific research, the UAE has succeeded in saving the Houbara bustard from various dangers that threaten its survival. And it was through the implementation of a strategy of sustainable hunting that the UAE has managed to ensure the breeding of tens of thousands of birds, contributing hence to the reinstatement of Houbara numbers worldwide.

In November 2010, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) announced the inscription of falconry as a living human heritage on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The UAE played a leading role in the collective efforts of 12 Arab and foreign countries to reach this goal and secure this international recognition.

Four decades ago, the UAE had begun its efforts to preserve the Houbara bustards and falcons. In 1976, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi organised the first International Conference for the Preservation of Falconry, under the directives and patronage of the first falconer, and fore-runner of environment conservationists, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan . The Conference paved the path for the beginning of intensive efforts, and the recommendations turned into an ambitious reality that surpassed all expectations.

A year after, in 1977, the Houbara breeding programme was launched at Al Ain Zoo, and, in 1982, the first Asian Houbara chick hatched in the UAE. In 2016, IFHC’s production programme has succeeded in exceeding its global target, with the breeding of more than 50,000 Houbara bustard as part of its conservation efforts.