Abu Dhabi, March 6th, 2009 (WAM): Deputy Prime Minister of UAE HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan said that the International Fund for Houbara Conservation is about to evolve a comprehensive global strategy for producing/raising over 50,000 houbara bustards with an aim of increasing the bird’s population in their natural habitats, which stretches from North Africa to Central Asia.
The International Fund for Houbara Conservation was set up last year as an initiative of the Abu Dhabi government.
Sheikh Hamdan spoke about the Fund’s future plan during an inspectional tour of the National Avian Research Center (NARC) today in the presence of the Ruler’s Representative in the Eastern Region HH Sheikh Tahnoun Bin Mohammed Al Nahyan.
Sheikh Hamdan is the Chairman of the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, to which NARC is affiliated.
A number of Sheikhs and senior officials accompanied Sheikh Tahnoun and Sheikh Hamdan in their tour, during which they inspected various wings of NARC including the houbara breeding centre.
NARC’s mission is to promote conservation of bustards and falcons, and to reconcile the tradition of Arab falconry with a sustainable use of resources throughout the bustards’ and falcons’ range.
The mission is achieved through breeding in captivity, research, advice, international co-operation, habitat conservation and co-operation with falconers.
By these means NARC aims to preserve natural and cultural heritage and to save falcons, bustards and other bird species from extinction.
Sheikh Hamdan said that the houbara breeding programme, which was initiated by Late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan early in 1977, has started to yield its fruits. Sheikh Zayed gave his directives to breed houbara in captivity 32 years ago, a time when the bird was not an endangered species. That ardent effort succeeded through the hatching of the first captive houbara chick in UAE in 1982.
Sheikh Hamdan added that the great support extended by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to preserve nature and conserve its resources always gave us the inspiration to continue our work until we could proudly say today that the number of houbara has increased in the nature.
Sheikh Khalifa followed the footprints of the father supporting various programmes aimed at the conservation of the nature and introducing laws for protecting these birds from potential extinction, Sheikh Hamdan added.
He also recalled the historic event when General HH Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, participated in the release of more than 5,000 houbaras in an area of about 300km inside the eastern desert of Morocco. These houbaras were bred in captivity at the Emirates Centre for Wildlife Propagation (ECWP) in Missour, Morocco.
This release was considered to be the largest reintroduction of endangered species into the wild so far, recalled Sheikh Hamdan.
Speaking about the future plans of the International Fund for Houbara Conservation , Sheikh Hamdan said: ‘After the establishment of the Fund under the chairmanship of HH Sheikh Mohammed, we are at the threshold of evolving a comprehensive global strategy with the aim of producing 50,000 houbara bustards evenly distributed in their natural habitats from North Africa to Central Asia’