5,000 houbaras arrive in Abu Dhabi
By Our Abu Dhabi Bureau / WAMJune 05, 2012
ABU DHABI: The International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC) has transferred 5,270 Asian Houbara bustards from Morocco to Abu Dhabi in a major logistical operation.The birds will form the breeding flock at the new Sheikh Khalifa Houbara Breeding Centre at Saih Al Salam. As a result of the transfer, the number of Houbara for breeding and release into the wild will almost double once the centre is fully operational. It also represents a significant step forward in IFHC’s global programme for conserving the endangered Houbara bustard.
Mohammed Ahmed Al Bowardi, deputy chairman, IFHC, said: “This transfer is an important milestone in the UAE’s journey to conserve the endangered Houbara bustard. It will go a long way to meeting the strategy of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and enable future generations to enjoy a bird so important to our local culture,” he added.
“It was a collective effort and I would like to thank all the people involved who made this such a successful operation. I want to particularly thank the UAE air force for the vital part it played in safely delivering such a precious cargo.” Mohammed Saleh Al Baidani, director general, IFHC, said: “The scale of the exercise we undertook cannot be underestimated. To successfully complete an operation of such magnitude is a tribute to everyone involved.”
Al Baidani added: “As a result of the transfer Houbara breeding will eventually increase to almost 10,000 birds bred every year. The majority of the captive-bred Houbara will be released to help fulfil the vision of the late Sheikh Zayed for restoring sustainable, wild populations of the endangered Houbara bustard.”
The transfer is the culmination of many years of planning. The flock of Asian Houbara had been bred over a number of years at the Emirates Centre for Wildlife Propagation (ECWP) in Morocco.
The birds were loaded onto a UAE Air Force plane.
Al Baidani, who flew with the birds, said: “Thankfully it was a safe flight and all credit must go to our pilots. These 5,000 Houbara have completed a very unique journey.” After the plane landed in Abu Dhabi some of the birds were transferred to IFHC’s new centre at Saih Al Salam and some to the National Avian Research Centre in Sweihan.